Insights (Essays)

Insights (Essays) September 2011

Pursuing Graduate Studies in Nursing Education: Driving and Restraining Forces

Heather Cathro, RN, BN, MN

Abstract

This article articulates the growing shortage of nursing faculty and identifies factors that impact nurses’ decisions to pursue graduate studies in nursing education. Kurt Lewin’s Force Field Analysis and a Decision Matrix are applied to the process of pursuing graduate studies in nursing education. When driving forces outweigh restraining forces, nurses are more likely to pursue graduate studies in nursing education. Innovative solutions to strengthen driving forces and overcome restraining forces include: offering more programs with a focus in nursing education; financial support; flexible program delivery options, including more online graduate programs; mentoring; and collaborations between employers and academic institutions. The implications of this analysis for nurses, academic nurse leaders and nursing faculty, nurse employers, and governing bodies are presented.

Citation: Cathro, H., (Ausut 15, 2011) "Pursuing Graduate Studies in Nursing Education: Driving and Restraining Forces" OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 16 No. 3.

DOI: 10.3912/OJIN.Vol16No03PPT02

Keywords: Faculty shortage, nursing education, decisions regarding graduate studies, pursuing graduate studies, driving and restraining forces, flexible program delivery, collaborations, mentoring, nursing faculty salaries

Encouraging nurses to pursue graduate studies and a career in nursing education is necessary to address the growing nursing faculty shortage. In this article I address factors that influence nurses’ decisions to pursue graduate programs that have a focus in nursing education with the goal of addressing the looming nursing faculty shortage. The purpose of this article is to identify driving and restraining forces that impact nurses’ decisions to pursue graduate studies in nursing education. I also provide suggestions to key stakeholders on how to increase driving forces and overcome restraining forces. Key stakeholders include nurses, academic nurse leaders and nursing faculty, nurse employers, and governing bodies. The instruments presented in this article can be utilized by nurses as they consider pursuing graduate studies and careers in nursing education.

The Growing Nursing Faculty Shortage in Canada and the United States

In the US the National League for Nursing has reported that almost two-thirds of nursing faculty are 45 to 60 years old and likely to retire within 15 years... The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) (2010a) and the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) (2010) have both documented the growing shortage of nursing faculty. This article features data from nursing advocacy groups in Canada and the United States (US), recognizing that the growing nursing faculty shortage and the need for more graduate-prepared nurses is a concern in both countries. The current number of nurses completing graduate programs is not sufficient to replace the number of retiring faculty (AACN, 2010b; CASN, 2010). In Canada, 31% of nursing faculty are over the age of 55, and 12% are over the age of 60 (CASN, 2010). CASN has reported that “sustaining the nursing workforce will be a major challenge because of an inadequate supply of faculty” (CASN, 2010, p. 7). In the US the National League for Nursing (NLN) (2009) has reported that almost two-thirds of nursing faculty are 45 to 60 years old and likely to retire within 15 years, further contributing to the faculty shortage.

Graduate preparation is a requirement for most faculty positions. In the US 55.5% of vacant faculty positions require a completed doctorate degree, and 37.1% require a completed masters’ degree with a doctorate preferred (AACN, 2010a). Faculty requirement statistics were not found for Canada, although approximately 61% of current nursing faculty report having at least a master’s degree (CASN/Canadian Nurses Association, 2009).

Read the entire article here.

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