Ten years ago, I left bedside nursing with a fresh Master of Science in hand to teach in a nursing school in an attempt to be part of the solution to one of the major health care problems facing this country: the nursing shortage. By my calculations, I have assisted in graduating over 200 nurses with associate degrees and over 400 with bachelor’s degrees—but as good as that feels, it is truly just a drop in the bucket of our ongoing lack of qualified nurses.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) projects a continued shortage of registered nurses in the United States as the need for health care grows with an aging population and as a result of the ongoing health care reform. In addition to this ever-increasing need, the enrollment in nursing schools is not growing fast enough to meet the demand. According to the AACN, U.S. nursing schools turned away over 79,000 applicants in 2012. Why such a high number if we need nurses? The #1 reason is lack of nursing faculty. The reasons given for a lack of nursing faculty are also related to an aging population looking toward retirement, as well as a lack of nurses being prepared for the faculty role.
Once again, I have the opportunity to be a part of the solution! This time I am able to help prepare nurses to be the faculty who will be part of the solution to the problem of the nursing shortage as a faculty member in an M.S.N. program.
I have thoroughly enjoyed every job I have had in my 30+ years since graduating and earning my RN license. But the best by far has been my faculty role. I will be honest: the hours are long, but the rewards are great! To be part of guiding a caring group of students into a nursing career with unlimited possibilities in geographic locations, hospitals, hospital departments, or community settings has been the most rewarding experience I have had so far. And I fully expect guiding nurses into faculty roles will be just as rewarding as preparing them for clinical settings.
I will continue to be a part of the solution for as long as I can. However, I am part of the end of the Baby Boomer generation; I hope to retire in 10 years, at the earliest. So I need to hurry and prepare others to take my place educating the nurses who will take over for me and my generation! Will it be you? If you have any interest in becoming a nurse educator, now is the time. Look into nursing programs, especially those at the graduate level. Talk to professors and professionals in your area and ask them your questions. Then, get in the classroom. We need you!