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Authors

  1. Mee, Cheryl L. RN,BC, MSN

Article Content

When I earned my BSN in 1979, I'd had enough of school and vowed to never return. But in 1989, when I found a convenient program near my home, I started to pursue my graduate degree, one class at a time.

 

I also said I'd never teach. True, I enjoyed leading staff-development courses at the hospital where I worked, but standing in front of a college class didn't appeal to me. Then recently the adjunct faculty coordinator of a local university program told me about the nursing courses offered and how well my skills suited the teaching requirements. Suddenly, I wanted in.

 

This semester, for the first time, I'm teaching RN-to-BSN students taking satellite courses at a nearby hospital. My course is called "Philosophical Foundations of Baccalaureate Nursing." The title makes it sound a little dull, I admit. But I'm so excited for the nurses taking this new path, and so thrilled to be branching out in my own career, that I'm hoping my enthusiasm will captivate the students.

 

What about you? Do you realize how depleted nursing faculties have become? Because so few teachers are available, some nursing programs are turning away qualified student applicants. How can we ever replenish our ranks unless good nurses teach others how to carry on the profession?

 

Most nursing schools require at least a master's degree to teach students. If you're interested but don't have an MSN, consider going back to school. You'll probably need 40 to 45 credits. Getting them may take 3 to 4 years if you attend part-time, but most schools work hard to develop flexible schedules for adult learners. Many schools also help nurses get scholarships for advanced degrees and they're eager to help you with the application. Tuition reimbursement from your employer, if available, is also worth seizing.

 

Even if you don't have an MSN and don't want to pursue an advanced degree, you may be qualified to teach. If educating other nurses interests you at all, speak with the adjunct faculty coordinator at a school in your area. You might be surprised to learn that your expertise qualifies you to teach a portion of a class. If standing in front of students strikes fear in your heart, consider teaching small staff-development sessions at your facility or becoming a preceptor for new graduates.

 

Every day I'm in nursing, I learn something new. I urge you to become a "classy" nurse. Take advantage of all available teaching and learning opportunities. Make the most of your mind and your skills by getting a new degree or teaching others. Think about it-and please, never say never.

 

A serious look at a serious problem

In May 2003, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) released a white paper on faculty shortages in baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs. It explains the extent of the problem, provides possible solutions, and details creative approaches some nursing programs are currently using to boost faculty. The paper is available at http://www.aacn.nche.edu/Publications/WhitePapers/FacultyShortages.htm.

 

Cheryl L. Mee RN,BC, MSN

  
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