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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Nursing Faculty Retention

Published August 18, 2015 3:35 PM by Guest Blogger
Editor's Note: This guest post is written by Lisa Bingham, MSN, RN from Newburg, Oregon. She has been a registered nurse for 18  years and is currently pursuing her FNP from Gonzaga University

I fully support the idea about leveling "the playing field" when it comes to requiring advanced degrees for nurses to practice. I believe that my advanced education has greatly improved my nursing care; however, there is very important aspect related to this debate that is often neglected.

One of the problems with requiring advanced degrees for nurses, is, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), we not only have a nursing shortage but a faculty shortage as well. As a recent nursing faculty member, I can tell you that I worked in one of at least 700 nursing schools with vacant faculty positions (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/nursing-faculty-shortage). Although the average salary of a nursing instructor is slightly over $78,000 per year, I was making a little more than half that amount and working every day of the week to prepare my students for the workforce. When my students graduated and obtained a job, they made more money than I did. A nurse practitioner, who also requires a master's degree, averages over $91,000 per year (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/nursing-faculty-shortage).

Compensation, although important, is not the most important aspect of a career. As I previously stated, I worked every day. I am an organized person by nature, but not only were there papers to grade and research to be done in order to prepare for lectures and clinical experiences, in an academic setting service is a requirement of scholarly research and publication in order to gain promotion. There were often marathon faculty meetings as well as hours of advising of students. Most of the time, it feels like you don't get to spend enough time with working with the students which is the whole reason you started teaching. People say, "Well, you get the summer off." Again, we are doing research, service and preparing for the next academic year. We are volunteering at new student orientations and academic advising for the incoming freshmen and transfer students.

 I am not complaining about the job as I loved spending time with students, but I am trying to show that there is much more to being a nursing faculty member than working 12 hours and then going home. (I'm not saying that working a 12 hours shift in a hospital is not difficult). I also have a spouse and four children. I had to stop working as a nursing faculty in order to be present with my family. I now have a part-time nursing position in which I spend 24 hours and make more money per hour than I did as a nursing faculty. 

The compensation for the amount of hours that a nursing faculty is required to spend is not adequate.  Until this is remedied, requiring advanced degrees for nurses is going to be an uphill climb. It's a wonderful idea and has been shown to improve patient outcomes, but thought needs to be put toward nursing faculty retention and compensation in order to make advanced practice degree requirements work. 

3 comments

The salaries in this vicinity could be much better and relate to the national average, but the student loans some faculty members still carry are burdensome. Student loans for Masters degrees is high enough for some nurses to not want to enter the field of nursing education. I also fear leaving my students to be without an instructor due to the present and soon to increase shortage.

Theresia Garner, Med/Surg - Assoc Professor, College of Central FL August 27, 2015 6:58 PM
Ocala FL

Nurse educators work hard-sharing their knowledge of and devotion to the nursing profession.  Better salaries would help, but working environment and appreciation effect retention as well

Sondra Brown, Nursing Education - Dean of Student Affairs, S Nusingtandard College of August 26, 2015 8:09 PM
Lorton VA

In addition, the average age of nursing faculty is 61.  If the shortage of faculty is bad now, just wait to see what happens in four more years.  We must do better!  It breaks my heart to think of leaving my students without faculty to teach them.

Marianne Hutti, Nursing - Professor, University of Louisville School of Nursing August 26, 2015 7:35 PM
Louisville KY

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