Our country is set to face a new way of managing health which could potentially change the environment on how nurses deliver care. As our nation prepares for the implementation of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, nursing as a healing profession has to be open to what the future of health management holds. The goal is to have all registered nurses reach a high level of understanding and acquire tools necessary to provide the best possible way at a low cost. It is both moral and professional obligation of our leaders to ensure that highly competent and well trained nurses are available throughout this transition.
To achieve this goal, nurse educators are the key players to train both novice and seasoned nurses to the change based on the new policies and evidence-based research. However, our Nurse Educators are overwhelmed with their current workload hence causing faculty shortage in the country.
A recent study published on 2011 aimed to explore the relation of nursing faculty shortage to their workload, determine if there are evidences that the faculty workload is not equitable and the implication/effect to the nursing research and nursing academic. According to this study, there are multiple factors that influence the nursing faculty shortage such as lack of interest from the nurses to try academic careers, time spends to clinical practice defers pursuance into academic positions, low salaries, high educational costs, nursing education dissatisfaction and most importantly low institutional funding for additional nurse educator positions.
Nancy Falk stated in her article that “despite current critical shortage and growing demand for nurses and nurse educators, federal funding falls far short of addressing these healthcare workforce challenges. Workforce projections suggest that the US will face a shortage of 285,000 nurses by 2015 and 500, 000 by 2025.” (Mason, Leavitt & Chaffee, 2012, p 58). Also, American Association Colleges of Nursing reported on 2011-2012, that nursing schools turned away 75,587 applicants who are qualified for baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs because of inadequate nursing faculty including clinical preceptors.
These challenges ultimately impact the future of patient care if not addressed. Faculty leaders must work in partnership to create a strategy that will help prevent further faculty shortage by focusing on balanced faculty workload to avoid burnout. This article emphasized on the continuous support by government officials especially adequate funding to nursing education.
AACN is allocating its resources to protect federal funding for academic development programs, identify strategies to prevent nursing educator shortage. Additional solution is to create a mentorship program for nurse faculty. This strategy was confirmed by various literature and studies to promote nursing faculty recruitment and retention. Mentorship brings encouragement and direction to clinical educators who are new to the role and prevent burnout.
Health care system will be lost without nurses in our society. Statistic shows that there are currently 2.9 million nurses in the United States but nurses with special skills such as in education is extremely needed. Nurse Educators, in some ways, affect the lives of everyone. It is through this role where highly competent, compassionate healers such as nurses are produced. “The future of the nursing profession depends on a steady supply of nurses to provide the quality care to patients” (Cowen & Moorhead, 2011, p. 60)