A Reader and Author Respond to "The Preparation of Nurse Faculty: Who Should Teach Students?"

Deborah L. Schofield, MS, CRNP; Joan M. Davenport, PhD, RN; Quie K. Blum, PhD; Robin P. Newhouse, PhD, RN, CNA, CNOR; Patricia G. Morton, RN, PhD, CRNP, FAAN; Carol A. O'Neil, MA, EdM, PhD; Sue A. Thomas, RN, PhD; Jean B. Ivey, DSN, CRNP


March 06, 2008

To the Editor,

We are writing in response to Jean Ivey's article, "The Preparation of Nurse Faculty: Who Should Teach Students?", published in Medscape's Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing.[1] We agree with the author's assertion that coursework in nursing education, while available to doctoral students as electives, has not been an integral part of their core coursework or the customary pathway to faculty preparation. We share Dr. Ivey's concern that graduates of doctoral programs may be "unprepared" for faculty teaching positions and strongly agree that education courses should be available and encouraged in doctoral curricula.

In "Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice," the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) acknowledges that although many DNP graduates desire and will accept faculty positions upon completion of their programs, "the major focus of the educational program must be on the area of practice specialization within the discipline, not the process of teaching."[2] This position by the AACN for DNP graduates, together with the fact that historically, many of the students in doctoral programs (PhD, DNSc, and DNP) already hold faculty positions, further underscores the urgent need for formal pedagogical programs to fully prepare them for faculty positions in the academic setting.

At the University of Maryland School of Nursing, a sequence of courses was created to address the needs of masters and doctoral students interested in teaching. The Institute for Educators in Nursing and Health Profession was launched in mid-2004. The core initiatives include a postgraduate certificate program in education and faculty development initiatives. The Institute offers a replicable model for preparing nurses for teaching roles, fostering the development of new and current faculty, as well as serving as a catalyst for the valuing of the teaching role. The certificate program includes 12 credits of sequential courses designed to prepare nurse faculty to teach in classroom, online, and clinical settings. Faculty development includes yearly educational events, monthly Education Grand Rounds, and consultation for course redesign.

Although a debate of the art of teaching is beyond the scope of this commentary, we would like to emphasize that the completion of courses in education themselves cannot guarantee a successful career as an educator; mentorship opportunities are essential and available to develop creative, visionary, and effective educators. We encourage doctoral students interested in faculty positions to consider that they will be "raising the image"[3] of nursing education to its rightful place in society as well as educating critically needed scholars and clinicians to become the next generation of faculty.

Preparation for faculty teaching positions will require doctoral students' personal dedication and investment, as well as strategic planning to ensure adequate preparation within their respective doctoral programs.

Deborah L. Schofield, MS, CRNP
Joan M. Davenport, PhD, RN
Quie K. Blum, PhD
Robin P. Newhouse, PhD, RN, CNA, CNOR
Patricia G. Morton, RN, PhD, CRNP, FAAN
Carol A. O'Neil, MA, EdM, PhD
Sue A. Thomas, RN, PhD
University of Maryland School of Nursing
Baltimore, Maryland

Author's Response:

Many thanks for your response to the column. At the University of Alabama School of Nursing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, we also have a 12-hour sequence of courses leading to a certificate in the educator role. As discussed in the article, this remains optional rather than integral in most programs of study for doctoral students. I certainly agree that the mentorship of colleagues is essential to the development of a nursing educator. But I also believe that as a profession we need to consider how to prepare our best and brightest for futures in nursing education.

Jean Ivey, DSN, CRNP
The University of Alabama School of Nursing
Birmingham, Alabama


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