Nurse educators provide education and training for nurses at all levels including students in nursing schools and experienced nurses seeking career development. Today’s healthcare environment requires nurses that are adequately prepared to meet the evolving needs of patients. Through education and training, students and qualified nurses acquire knowledge and skills that guide quality care delivery to patients. Academic Nurse Educators (ANEs) are experts in evidence-based practice which is currently the key to improving the quality of healthcare (Hunt, 2017). Through aspects of research and utilization of experience, nurse educators are in a position to direct teams, provide guidance, and exemplify best practices in nursing. While striving to prepare and transform nursing education and practice, nurse educators are faced with political, social, cultural, and economic challenges. This discussion focuses on the role of nurse educators, the challenges faced, and strategies that can be deployed to effectively fulfill the role of an ANE.
C1. Roles and Responsibilities
Nurse educators are vital to the future of nursing because they are tasked with preparing exceptional nurses that can deliver quality care to patients. ANEs serve as teachers, mentors, and managers to ensure both students and qualified nurses develop the skills needed to provide safe quality care. Although the majority of the responsibilities of ANEs are academic, they also work in clinical settings to monitor how students and qualified nurses provide care. ANEs engage in research to design curricula, develop courses, and evaluate strategies to ensure those who graduate are adequately prepared to offer quality care to patients (Mthiyane & Habedi, 2018). Engagement in research and evaluation of students ensures attainment of minimum competencies that can aid students to make decisions that promote safety and quality.
Patient safety is the cornerstone of quality care which represents the extent to which healthcare services provided to patients increase the likelihood of desired outcomes. Academic nurse educators function to ensure students and qualified nurses practice competently to avoid harming the patient. For example, ANEs ensure the students are aware of patient safety practices that reduce the risk of adverse events related to exposure to medical care. These practices include prophylaxis before surgery, use of maximum sterile barriers, pressure ulcer prevention, and use of a teach-back mechanism during patient education. These measures apply to both nursing students and qualified nurses working in the hospital environment.
Nursing has long been concerned with defining and measuring quality before the current national and state-level emphasis. Nurses are involved with the integration of multiple aspects of quality within the care delivered directly by nurses, and across the care delivered by others (Mthiyane & Habedi, 2018). Academic nurse educators practice in clinical settings to evaluate the type of care delivered to patients by students and qualified nurses. ANEs regularly assess students to ascertain possession of knowledge and skills to handle complex patient situations. Additionally, the ANE observes how students work with other healthcare teams to improve service delivery to patients. During their time in clinical settings, the key role of the ANE is to communicate findings to students and qualified nurses to ensure they rectify aspects that hinder quality care delivery to patients.
The shortage of nurses and nursing program faculty reinforces the role of ANEs play in training new nurses. These nurses are highly competent in teaching, research, clinical practice, and management to ensure they can guide others. To ensure students are well-prepared to offer quality services to patients, ANEs use simulation-based strategies that mirror real-world situations. The nurses serve as clinical tutors while working directly with patients. They educate qualified nurses and patients about communication techniques and professional actions that promote patient safety. Because of their focus on quality and patient safety, ANEs create opportunities to examine new nurses’ competencies using various tools. In collaboration with nurse managers and organizational leaders, ANEs evaluate programs that are thought to contribute to patient safety and quality.
C2. Functioning within the Parent Institution
The type of setting that nurse educators find themselves in is important during instruction because it determines their roles. The role of the nurse educator in the academic setting may be similar to that of hospital-based educators but also differ because of the focus population. Teaching roles in academia for nurse educators include clinical instructor, adjunct faculty, instructor of nursing, lecturer, associate, and full professor (Hunt, 2017). Irrespective of the position assumed, the ANE must understand the mission and philosophy of the academic or hospital they work in. Additionally, the ANE should understand the needs of staff, and the economic, and political environment that dictate how services are offered. The nurse educator identified for this discussion works in an academic setting and teaches students taking the baccalaureate degree program.
Academic nurse educators working in academic settings are required to be future-oriented and adapt to the changing healthcare environment. The primary function of the nurse educator is to provide instruction to students (Mthiyane & Habedi, 2018). The ANE is involved in teaching students, setting student-learning outcomes, and evaluating their progress throughout the course. The individual also works to set exams for students and provide feedback on students’ performance. Apart from their area of specialty, the ANE participates in teams that monitor, evaluate, and assess courses (Hunt, 2017). Through participation in meetings and conferences, the ANE actively contributes to the adjustment of curriculum and inclusion of new ways of instruction into the profession.
The National League for Nursing (NLN) outlines how ANEs should function within the educational environment. The ANE is supposed to understand history, current trends, and issues in higher learning to guide decision-making on educational issues (Hunt, 2017). In the parent institution, the ANE is tasked with observing the student’s behavior, trends in nursing education, and how new policies impact teaching and learning. This individual is observed to collaborate with students and educators from other faculties to come up with policies or new ways of solving institutional issues (Mthiyane & Habedi, 2018). The nurse works to ensure the goals of the nursing program and the mission of the parent institution are met.
Student mentorship is a synergistic relationship between beginning student nurses and nurse educators with multiple years of experience. These approaches to learning are meant to encourage the student’s professional growth and the formation of dynamic supportive relationships. ANEs function within the parent institution to mentor students and guide the learning process(Hunt, 2017). The ANE observes the student’s behavior, corrects it when necessary, and recommends disciplinary action if required. For example, the nurse mentors students to maintain the integrity of the profession by minimizing things like cheating or going against the professional code of conduct.
C3. External stakeholders
The National League for Nursing (NLN). NLN is the premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education. This organization is a key player in initiatives to build diversity and improve the functioning of nurse educators. For effective delivery of services to students and qualified nurses, NLN outlines eight key competencies that must be made by ANEs (Keating et al., 2021). For example, the nurse educator should facilitate learning by creating an environment in the classroom or clinical setting that ensures the achievement of desired outcomes. Through monitoring and evaluation (M&E) management functions, NLN is tasked with spotting bottlenecks in instruction and recommending changes to nursing faculty.
State Board of Nursing. These organizations exist in every state and are tasked with setting the standards of safe nursing care and deciding the scope of practice for all nurses within its jurisdiction. Nurse educators are members of the state board of nursing where they practice and they must meet the minimum requirements before renewal of licensure. The boards of nursing can also take disciplinary action against nurse educators or forward the matter to NCSBN. ANEs must ensure they practice according to the required state standards and violation of regulations may lead to loss of their practice license.
C3A. Communication Strategies
Effective stakeholder communication allows employees to receive feedback regarding issues that may affect them. ANEs can utilize different communication strategies to ensure they engage the external stakeholders and effectively manage issues that arise. The first communication strategy I would recommend is the utilization of emails, press releases, and other social media platforms (Bourne, 2016). External stakeholders like NLN are tasked with overseeing the practice of ANEs from several states. Using official communication channels can ensure the ANEs message is received and handled accordingly. Press releases and other social media platforms have emerged to be effective strategies to capture the attention of external stakeholders. For example, problems in nursing education that may need to be addressed by state boards can be published on social media to gain the attention of top leaders.
The second strategy that can serve to engage external stakeholders is the timely delivery of feedback. Feedback plays a vital role in improving the overall effectiveness of communication by enabling the backward flow of information (Bourne, 2016). The ANE should provide regular updates to the external stakeholders on issues that are not working or those that are pending. For example, the nurse should write emails, organize short meetings and use phone calls to reach out when important issues are to be discussed. Open discussion in matters like curriculum development or changing roles of nurse educators by the stakeholders should receive immediate feedback from the ANE. Timely delivery of feedback will help to keep the stakeholders on toes and ensure no matter is ignored.
C4. Interprofessional Collaboration
Effective communication, teamwork, and interprofessional collaboration in nursing education or practice are crucial for the improvement of quality healthcare. Working within an education setting or clinical area, nurse educators provide coordinated and complex care for students and qualified nurses. To effectively prepare students to work with other healthcare teams, ANEs utilize strategies and implement changes that improve interprofessional collaboration. The first way ANEs facilitate the development of interprofessional collaborative efforts is through teaching students IPC core competencies (Fleming & Willgerodt, 2017). For instance, nurses are supposed to adhere to the ethics of interprofessional practice by maintaining mutual respect and shared values. According to interprofessional collaboration (IPC), individuals should utilize teams and teamwork to deliver and evaluate patient care (Fleming & Willgerodt, 2017). Ensuring that these competencies are communicated to students can adequately prepare teams that work collaboratively.
Nurse educators are responsible for preparing students to function in interprofessional teams (Berghout, 2021). The ANEs educate the students about the importance of interprofessional collaboration and how it can benefit patients during clinical practice. During instruction, the ANE should ensure students begin preparing for interprofessional collaboration by encouraging group work and group discussions. Through discussions, the students can understand the importance of involving others in solving a common problem. The utilization of learning strategies like simulations can also encourage the students to fit into interprofessional teams (Berghout, 2021). For example, the ANE can collaborate with educators from the Medicine department and organize skills lab activities that require both nurses and doctors to work together. Students can learn to work with doctors and copy the same approach to their clinical practice areas.
Care coordination and organization of case management activities are good mechanisms ANEs can use to operationalize interprofessional collaboration. According to the Case Management Society of America, case management is a collaborative process of assessing, planning, facilitating, and evaluating care to meet the health needs of patients or families (Fleming & Willgerodt, 2017). ANEs can use the case management approach to prepare students to work with patients, families, social workers, and community members to solve complex cases. Common partnerships for students can include school-based interdisciplinary teams, school-based health centers, or hospital and community providers. Providing cases to students can promote practices like inquiry that must exist in a practical healthcare environment during care delivery.
- Challenge Summary
Nursing education today is faced with the challenge of faculty shortage making it difficult to prepare enough nurses to take care of the increasing number of patients. Faculty shortages at nursing schools across the country have limited the student capacity as the need for nurses continues to grow. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) (2020), the shortage of nurse educators is caused by factors like the aging population of faculty, increasing job competition from the clinical areas, and budget constraints. A combination of these economic, social, and political factors limits the number of ANEs in institutions and some facilities turn away degree candidates yearly (AACN, 2020). Many institutions have been strapped financially making their hiring capacity low and this puts more burden on the already overworked faculty.
D1. Impact of Identified Challenge
Nurse educators teach nursing students and ensure these students are adequately prepared to provide quality care to patients in the future. To effectively perform this role, ANEs must be presented with the right academic conditions including a manageable number of students. The shortage of nurse educators has affected the ANE’s ability to provide instruction to students. These individuals lack enough time to develop classes, evaluate students, and provide timely feedback. The nurses have a huge workload to complete and assessments to offer leaving them with no time to plan for other important activities. For example, the nurses may find it difficult to engage in scholarly activities like peer review and research because of limited free time. In other areas, ANEs may have little time to plan professional development activities like attending seminars or taking extra courses because of the effects of faculty shortage.
D2. Scholarly Sources
Nursing education has a significant impact on the knowledge and competencies of nurses. To ensure students are adequately prepared to fit into the nursing profession, there must be adequate educators. Fawaz and colleagues conducted research to determine the challenges facing nursing education in an advanced healthcare environment where faculty shortage emerged among the key issues. The lack of enough nurse educators has led to inadequate capacity in nursing schools and further increased the shortage of nurses in the country (Fawaz et al., 2018). The authors attributed this challenge to low pay and financial difficulties in learning institutions.
The nurse faculty shortage has impacted current and future nursing workforce needs. Jarosinski and colleagues recently conducted a research to explore nursing program administrators’ perspectives on the nurse faculty shortage. From the interviews, it was observed that nurse educators faced increasing faculty workloads making it difficult to teach (Jarosinski et al., 2022). The majority of the ANEs had problems with meeting the individual needs of students while others were unable to actively engage the huge number of students during teaching. Areas of importance like mentorship have become challenging to nurse educators because they lack time to spend with students and provide guidance.
Academic nurse educators play a critical role in advancing the science of nursing education through teaching, scholarly work, and research. Faculty shortage is a big challenge for many nurse educators in the US with about 6.5% faculty vacancy rate (Mariani, 2022). Because of the shortage of ANEs, the majority are unable to perform their role of teaching and are observed to influence institutions to turn away highly qualified candidates who are willing to become nurses (Mariani, 2022). An insufficient number of ANEs has caused inefficiencies in clinical instruction of students and this may impact quality care delivery to patients upon graduation.
D3. Opportunities and Barriers
The first strategy that can be used to address the shortage in nursing faculty is improving financial allocation to nursing schools. Legislation in states should be enacted to ensure these institutions increase the number of faculty and educational capacity. For example, Hawaii became the fourth state in the nation to pass a law aimed at helping the country reduce the shortage of preceptors (AACN, 2020). the other solution that can help address the faculty shortage in the country is increasing enrollment in master’s and doctoral programs in nursing education (Fawaz et al., 2018). Students enrolling in these programs should receive adequate funding to ensure the timely completion of their education and training.
E1. Teaching Scholarship and Service
Teaching. Teaching is the primary role of ANEs which involves transmitting knowledge through lectures and guiding students in clinical practice (Hunt, 2017). To ensure I am fully prepared for this role, I will regularly review the NLN core competencies to familiarize myself with my capabilities and what is expected of ANEs during instruction. Secondly, I plan to familiarize myself with evidence-based strategies that can be used to teach students and improve their understanding. I will ensure to be informed about the current trends in healthcare so that I can be able to dictate what students should know before facing the increasingly complex healthcare environment.
Scholarship. Scholarship is more than traditional research of obtaining data, presenting at conferences, and publishing online. A good scholar reflects on teaching practices and asks if there are better ways for students to learn (Hunt, 2017). My plan to improve in this area is to identify areas that are challenging in nursing education, conduct research, and formulate evidence-based strategies to handle these areas. As I transition to the ANE role, I plan to consult with my superiors and seek mentorship on important areas of research.
Service. Professional service in nursing education includes things like participation in organizations and institutional committees. My plan to excel in this aspect involves being a member of important committees designed to address issues concerning the nursing curriculum or staff development. I will constantly review journals to identify best practices for curriculum development and student evaluation. I will attend meetings within and outside the institution to gain more knowledge about education and training and how ANEs can improve the quality of healthcare.
E2. Ethics, Values, and Cultural Norms
Nursing practice is inextricably intertwined with moral complexity that also applies during education and training. Nurse educators provide teaching while ensuring adherence to the core values of integrity, diversity, caring, and excellence (Hunt, 2017). To adhere to these values and norms, I will conduct a self-assessment to understand my values and how they can be affected during teaching. Through self-assessment, I will be able to understand my strengths and weaknesses and adjust accordingly to ensure alignment with the ethics of nursing education. During the research, I will ensure to seek approval from institutional bodies and conduct research based on the acceptable minimum standards. Lastly, I intend to seek mentorship from experienced ANEs who understand better how the profession works, the challenges observed, and how to maintain academic integrity during teaching.
E3. Academic Environment Type
Academic nurse educators work in diverse environments including community colleges, undergraduate institutions, and graduate programs in higher learning institutions. The academic environment that will best facilitate my transition into the role of an ANE is an institution offering undergraduate nursing education. This environment will ensure interaction with nursing students from different levels. Secondly, this avenue will provide a ground to engage in curriculum development and curriculum change to align education with the needs of students. Additionally, I will have a chance to work with interprofessional teams to make decisions that can impact the nursing profession.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2020). Nursing faculty shortage. https://www.aacnnursing.org/news-information/fact-sheets/nursing-faculty-shortage
Berghout T. (2021). How are nurse educators prepared to teach interprofessional practice?. Nurse Education Today, 98, 104745.
Bourne, L. (2016). Targeted communication: The key to effective stakeholder engagement. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 226, 431-438. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2016.06.208
Fawaz, M. A., Hamdan-Mansour, A. M., & Tassi, A. (2018). Challenges facing nursing education in the advanced healthcare environment. International Journal of Africa Nursing Sciences, 9, 105-110.
Fleming, R., & Willgerodt, M. A. (2017). Interprofessional collaborative practice and school nursing: A model for improved health outcomes. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 22(3), 2.
Hunt, D.D., 2017. The new nurse educator: Mastering academe. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Jarosinski, J. M., Seldomridge, L., Reid, T. P., & Willey, J. (2022). Nurse faculty shortage: Voices of nursing program administrators. Nurse Educator, 47(3), 151–155. https://doi.org/10.1097/NNE.0000000000001139
Keating, S. A., Berland, A., Capone, K., & Chickering, M. J. (2021). Global nursing education: International resources meet the NLN core competencies for nurse educators. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 26(1), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.3912/OJIN.Vol26No01Man08
Mariani, B. (2022). The nursing faculty shortage: It’s time to find our voice. Nursing Education Perspectives, 43(2), 73.
Mthiyane, G. N., & Habedi, D. S. (2018). The experiences of nurse educators in implementing evidence-based practice in teaching and learning. Health SA = SA Gesondheid, 23, 1177. https://doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v23i0.1177
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