Warm Southern Breeze

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Nursing shortage could be compounded by faculty shortage

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, August 3, 2012

One of the inevitable consequences of an aging population is the loss of their significant contribution and influence upon society from myriad perspectives.

To account and plan for such inevitabilities is not simply wise, but rather, it is common sense and a hallmark of effective and competent management.

Having been warned of the potential for crisis, we would be wise to double down on solutions.

Nursing Schools Brace For Faculty Shortage

by Sandy Hausman, WVTF

Listen to the Story Morning Edition; August 3, 2012; [4 min 16 sec] Download; 04:43 am

There have been lots of goodbye parties this year at the University of Virginia School of Nursing. So far, eleven professors have retired. That’s one-fourth of the faculty, and Dean Dorrie Fontaine is in no mood to celebrate.

nursingstudents

Nursing students in a simulation lab at the University of Virginia School of Nursing. Photo by: Elizabeth Lee Cantrell/UVA School of Nursing

Over the next few years, the Affordable Care Act will probably boost demand for nurses to take care of the newly-insured, she says, “And I need faculty to teach the practitioners that are going to take care of these uninsured.”

In the last year, more than 76,000 qualified applicants were turned away, in large part because nursing schools didn’t have enough professors. Polly Bednash heads the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. She explains that nurses comprise the oldest workforce in the nation, and many of them kept working during the recession.

“They are going to leave in droves and are already leaving in some places where the economy is getting better,” she says.

Finding professors to teach new nurses will be difficult, because faculty members usually need a Ph.D Of three million nurses in this country, less than one percent have their doctorate. Emily Drake, an associate professor of nursing at UVA, says most nurses want to practice right away. “After you finish your degree,” she says, “what we want to do is take care of patients.”

Pay is also a problem. Nurses with a master’s degree and special training can be certified as nurse practitioners – and be paid $120,000 a year or more. After ten years as a professor, Drake earns about $75,000.

It’s about more than the money, though. By the time most nurses consider a Ph.D, Dean Fontaine worries that their lives are complicated with a job, financial obligations, and children.

She says diversity in the teacher population is missing, too.

“We want to have our faculty and students match the population we serve, so we do not have enough Hispanic nurses or faculty, as well as African-Americans and other minorities – and men!”

Men make up just 10 percent of the nursing workforce, and Fontaine hopes the field can draw more of them to join young women in getting Ph.Ds and stepping into the classroom.

Drake says classes can’t get bigger because much of the training for nurses is hands on. “By law for each additional ten students we take, we need another clinical faculty member to supervise them in the hospital,” she says.

Polly Bednash, executive director of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, says schools are looking for other ways to teach.

“Faculty are getting more and more creative about how they prepare students,” says Bednash. “They bring in other clinicians to the educational experience – having pharmacists, for instance, be involved in teaching the pharmacotherapeutics.”

They’re also using technology – simulators and computer-based lessons – to supplement classroom and lab experience. Nationwide, nearly 8 percent of nursing school jobs – about 1,200 — are vacant, so the AACN is lobbying for more state, federal and foundation money to train Ph.Ds. And they’re urging their most promising students to get the advanced degree before they acquire a family and a mortgage.

This piece is part of a partnership with NPR, Virginia Public Radio, and Kaiser Heath News.

https://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/08/03/156213925/nursing-schools-brace-for-faculty-shortage

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