Nurse faculty play an invaluable role in healthcare

(Content sponsored by CUNY School of Professional Studies.)

Nurse faculty shortage can impact healthcare

Nurse faculty are retiring at a pace that exceeds the number of nurses who are assuming faculty positions. The nurse faculty shortage could have grave implications in healthcare if it is not addressed. As the population ages and becomes increasingly diverse, the demand for nurses who are prepared to meet the healthcare needs of a pluralistic society will intensify. It has been posited that the U.S. will experience one of the largest nursing shortages ever, with estimates that could reach 500,000 by 2025. If faculty roles continue to go unfilled, institutions will find it difficult to accept enough students to meet the growing demand for nurses. As a result, the nursing shortage could get worse.

The recruitment of nurse faculty continues to pose numerous challenges. First, tuition costs at the graduate level could discourage potential nursing applicants. Grants, loan forgiveness programs and scholarships could offset the expenses associated with education and are invaluable. However, if funding for tuition is secured, locating a nursing education program could be problematic. A quick glance at graduate programs reveals an imbalance between the high number of nurse practitioner tracks and the limited number of nurse educator tracks. What’s more, some nurses seek faculty positions but cite low salaries as a deterrent. Low salaries coupled with a limited number of nursing education programs, could suggest to nurses that the nurse faculty role is not valued. Nurse faculty salaries should be comparable to the clinical role and nursing programs must recognize the significance of nurse educator tracks.

Lastly, recruitment initiatives to strengthen the racial and ethnic diversity of faculty have not translated into a significant increase in underrepresented groups who serve as faculty. Nursing programs should assess the extent to which the academic environment is inclusive and develop a plan to ensure that the need for a diverse cadre of nurse faculty becomes a reality.

Nurse faculty shoulder many responsibilities

Nurse faculty should be able to create learning environments where culturally diverse students demonstrate an appreciation for diversity and have opportunities to learn from and across different disciplines. However, some faculty believe their educational programs did not prepare them to facilitate difficult conversations that include race, power, privilege and implicit bias. To improve the quality of healthcare, nurse educator programs must prepare future nurse faculty to deliver more than nursing content and skills and create measurement and evaluation instruments. Nursing programs should ensure that a representative sample of their nurse faculty have a master’s of science in nursing education and are skilled in equity pedagogy, designing socially just curriculum, simulation and creating culturally responsive learning environments.

The nursing professions’ ability to improve the nation’s health hinges in part on the future of nursing education. Indeed, nurse faculty play a critical role in preparing future nurses to address the social determinants of health and explore how numerous external factors impact health. To that end, nursing programs should emphasize the invaluable role of nurse faculty, step up recruitment efforts for the next generation of nurse faculty and provide nursing education tracks that address the healthcare needs of today’s multicultural society.

Editor’s Note: OnCourse Learning does not endorse any views expressed or products or services recommended or offered in the content of this blog. OnCourse Learning assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequence resulting, directly or indirectly, from any action or inaction taken based on or made in reliance on the information within this article.


Discover how can help you find your next dream job.
Just sign up and wait to be paired with your perfect match.

Kenya Beard, EdD, AGACNP-BC, NP-C, CNE, ANEF
Kenya V. Beard, EdD, AGACNP-BC, NP-C, CNE, ANEF, is an associate professor at the CUNY School of Professional Studies and a 2012 Josiah Macy Faculty Scholar. Beard is a faculty scholar for the Harvard Macy Institute Program for Educators in Health Professions and a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University School of Nursing. She also co-leads the Leadership Mentoring Program for the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties to strengthen the preparedness of culturally diverse nurse leaders. She is a Fellow in the New York Academy of Medicine and the National League for Nursing Academy of Nursing Education. She also serves on the editorial board for the American Journal of Nursing and the New York State Board for Nursing.


  1. Avatar
    KATURAH BRYANT May 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    I agree with Dr Beard re the need for nurse faculty as well as the ability for faculty to be culturally competent. I also think the shortage could be addressed by broadening the criteria as to who can serve in that role. There are many nurses like myself that have a BSN with advanced degrees in other health related fields. i.e. MFT(Marriage Family Therapy); MSW;LAc(Lic. Acupuncturist) or other areas of integrative health. I believe that educators like “us” should be considered as well.
    K A Bryant, BSN, RN, LMFT, LADC, NADA-RT
    MPACT(Multicultural Perspectives in Assessment, Consultation and Training), Partner

    • Avatar
      Anna Mary Bowers May 24, 2017 at 5:47 pm - Reply

      I totally agree with your statement that the criteria as to who can serve as faculty needs to be broadened. I have my MSN in nursing education and find that now more and more colleges want DNPs or PhDs to teach even BSN course. I have been teaching online and clinically for 10 years with excellent evaluations by students and administration alike, yet the lack of a DNP or PhD has knocked me out of the running several times. You would think an experienced nursing educator would be in high demand right now!

    • Avatar
      Bev May 25, 2017 at 10:36 am - Reply


    • Avatar
      Sandy Durflinger May 25, 2017 at 12:38 pm - Reply

      I have to agree with all who replied to this article. I have an MSN/ Education and an Online Teaching Certification. I have been a nurse since 1985. I have been applying for online teaching positions and find it very discouraging that a doctoral level is often required. Where does experience in Nursing come into play.?????? Would it not make more sense for experienced nurses to facilitate nurses and nursing students?
      Although I have not officially taught an online courses as yet, I have educated nurses within the hospital setting and in the lab setting at the University level. Through my schooling, I facilitated an online course as well as developed my own online course. I don’t know about anyone else, but with an $80,000.00 school loan debt, I can’t afford to continue on to a doctorate degree. But, I’m sure you would all agree that our experiences as nurses and educators as well as continued education courses speaks for itself. It’s time to stop complaining about the lack of faculty when in fact there are plenty of us who desire and deserve to be accepted as nursing/educator faculty at most any University or College in the USA. Let’s stick together and make it possible for future and current nurses to continue their education – in the online environment- with our knowledge and experiences as nurses and educators. After all, nurses and student nurses are quite busy and may not have the time to attend traditional classroom education courses. Nor are they always necessary.
      My personal information follows for any additional thoughts/questions as well as for any colleges and/or University seeking part time to full time Online Nursing Faculty.

      Sandy Durflinger RN/MSN- Education

      [email protected]

      Thank you to all who have added their responses and concerns to this article.

  2. Avatar
    Gail B Gall, PhD, RN May 23, 2017 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    Well said! As a retired NP and nursing faculty member I agree with your analyses. The discrepancy between clinical and academic salaries is wide. Additionally much more support is needed to increase diversity among nursing students and decrease barriers to successfully completing degrees as well as achieving professional advancement. Many nursing grads start careers with weighty debts. Nursing needs to engage not only government in supporting education but also health and science industries and academic institutions .

  3. Avatar
    Chris Wachsmuth, RN May 24, 2017 at 2:22 am - Reply

    I am so so tired of reading about the nursing faculty shortage when the profession of nursing has made it almost impossible to teach. Most colleges want doctoral prep and will not even consider Masters prepared nurses except for clinical rotations. The teaching salaries are nothing short of abysmal. Look at faculty today – still boomer white women. [of which I am one] Nursing has known about this problem for 25+ years and the only thing I can see that was done was to add the DNP route to faculty roles. There are MANY ways our profession could have fixed this before this crisis of our own making. Even now, colleges and universities could hire qualified Masters prepared nurses while actively recruiting a gender, racial and ethnic group of nurses that would be “sponsored” for their doctoral degrees. Ditto for identifying nurses in partner hospitals for BSN-PhD/DNP programs. Many professional fields do not snub their noses at their Masters prepared experts – how and why nursing decided to take this route has always been a mystery to me. I just know that after the university I was teaching at decided it was doctoral degree or no assignment – I left teaching. It still saddens me that a Masters in nursing + 30 years experience and very good student reviews weren’t enough.

    • Avatar
      Stacy May 24, 2017 at 1:41 pm - Reply

      I totally agree! Teaching with a masters degree for over 10 yrs does not mean I am not “qualified”. I have NO desire to obtain my PhD. I am fortunate enough that where I teach does not require a PhD but I know in time they may. I am interested in a DNP but many universities want PhD . It’s very disheartening because I love to teach and have experience with a very diverse group of students who are not originally from the US. I don’t believe that more letters behind my name means I’m a better faculty. But that’s just my opinion

      • Avatar
        Sandy Durflinger May 25, 2017 at 12:46 pm - Reply

        Hello Stacy,
        My name is Sandy Durflinger RN/MDN- Education. I also replied to the above article. If you would be so kind as to contact me, I would greatly appreciate your help. I am seeking a faculty position as an online educator in the nursing field. And as we have mentioned, the demand for a Doctorate level is being required more often.

        My contact info is:
        [email protected]
        Thank you for your time and concern,

    • Avatar
      J. T. Allen May 24, 2017 at 4:00 pm - Reply

      I agree with you 150%. It really sickens me. I was essentially forced out. Everyone was being forced to get a doctorate or potentially lose their jobs. Of course there was no tuition assistance from the employer and those that obtained a doctorate usually left shortly afterwards, no surprise. My issue has more to do with incivility in the workplace. I loved working with students but dressed going to campus and dealing with the other faculty. I always got excellent reviews but didn’t hang out with other faculty because of too much yap, yap, yapping…. So something had to be wrong with me. I know however that I always reached my students and it’s truly a shame the way tenured faculty treat those that are not. Nurses are still eating their young. I miss the students but you couldn’t pay me enough to deal with all the Prem a Donna’s… Their loss..?

    • Avatar
      Anna Mary Bowers, BSN, MSN, RN May 24, 2017 at 5:48 pm - Reply

      Well said!

    • Avatar
      Natalie D. Garry, RN,BSN,MSN,GNP-C May 24, 2017 at 7:50 pm - Reply

      I do agree with Chris.
      Here I am an RN since 1975, some 4 + decades ago, including 18 years as a geriatrics APRN, still practicing part time and have energy and desire to teach in the classroom but turned aside because I don’t have a DNP. Yet the medical school where I’m employed asks me yearly to return and teach med students about geriatric patients.
      What’s so special about nursing education that my experience is not good enough for nursing but more than adequate for medical school?

    • Avatar
      Bev May 25, 2017 at 10:39 am - Reply

      It’s been going on for at least the 40+ years that I have been a nurse

    • Avatar
      Cathy May 25, 2017 at 11:32 pm - Reply

      Well said and so true. Highly educated nurses are choosing clinical roles instead of academia because of the dismal pay. They worked hard to become MSN’s NP’s and they have huge student loans. We baby boomers have seen this coming for many years yet it seemed every year the criteria for entry level academia kept going up and up. It is a problem of your own making and many of us won’t be around to see how it becomes resolved. The are a lot of suggestions above but as with all nursing decrees it will need to go to committee then voted on etc. etc. People fear losing their power base. Well, now your losing your clinical nurse base and health care consumer base. Wake up….change the entrance criteria to include nurses who have excellent credentials and clinical work experience. There are nurses out there who want to do it and young women who want to become nurses. You’re shooting yourself in the foot.

    • Avatar
      Mary O'Connell Grant June 1, 2017 at 11:51 am - Reply

      Well said.

  4. Avatar
    Janet Hicks May 24, 2017 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    I am unfortunately not going to be able to teach more than one semester/year due to taxes. I work a full time job and part time adjunct, and this puts me in another tax bracket which always causes us to pay. If the federal government could assist with that situation, we wouldn’t be loosing this instructor.

  5. Avatar
    Lori Wichman, MSN-Ed, NLM, DNP(c), RN, CMSRN May 24, 2017 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    I agree with the issues discussed in the article. If the universities and colleges can’t keep up with pay and support further faculty education, proprietary schools may be where future nurses seek their education.

  6. Avatar
    Charmane Dixon-murriell May 24, 2017 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    While I agree with most that has been addressed. I’m a DNP with a certified nurse practicitioner in adult primary care and I’m also an African American. I’ve tried to break into the world of academia I have 25 years of combined experience as a RN,APN,DNP AND I GET SNUBBED AS having no experience in teaching. Well how do you obtain that experience? Why won’t they hire me? Then they wonder why they have a shortage?

    • Avatar
      V. Diaz May 26, 2017 at 12:34 pm - Reply

      I totally agree with you! I always believed that experience is the best teacher. A lot of situations I had handled well in my job were not teached in school but you learned as you go.The more experienced as Nurse is I think some of them could be a very good Nursing Faculty.V

    • Avatar
      Michelle May 26, 2017 at 1:43 pm - Reply


      I have been a nurse for 20 years now and will be starting my first adjunct faculty teaching position this fall. I have an MSN in Nursing Informatics and earned a 4.0 GPA which I worked very hard for yet couldn’t get a job as an “informaticist” as I had “no experience in computers”. Um, what? I work for a University Hospital and was fortunate enough to get this position in addition to my full time job there. I too have about $60K in remaining student loans (combined BSN and MSN) so the extra income will certainly help. I am excited to explore yet another area in nursing and maybe someday it will turn into a full time position, however the salary must be commensurate with what I am currently earning or there will be no chance of that ever happening.

  7. Avatar
    Baby May 24, 2017 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    There are BSN graduates that can teach better than those with lots of alphabets behind their name. Teaching depend on how the person can relate to the students, help them to learn and their willingness to extend help when needed. Nursing experience counts too! Institution/ colleges should look at the personality of the instructor. Some intelligent and brilliant nursing instructor does not know how to reach and adjust to the student’s level of learning. A good professor should be able to adjust techniques/instructions for students to learn and get their attention. The education requirements to teach is too high.

  8. Avatar
    Jo Ann Quigley RN May 25, 2017 at 3:50 am - Reply

    Several years ago the home health company I work for went through it’s management rolls and fired anyone who had nothing more than an RN or they were actively in school pursuing a BSN. Now many of these were a couple of years from retirement and had many years doing the job!! This is cruel and heartless. I remember when we fought to be called a “profession”. But right now the “profession” has gone too far from it’s roots and is destroying those who grew us into a profession! Why should it take 4 year college degree and in debt for $100,000 to be a worthy manager versus RN equipped with decades of experience? I have been in hospice for 30 years. I am a lowly RN-(life has it’s unexpected turns)and I was a hospice manager at another company. So where I work now, moved an existing manager in homecare to be hospice manager with NO hospice experience. It did not work out. We are throwing away and demeaning our treasured seniors for the idolatry of the alphabet after our names instead of the commitment to bedside nursing.
    To start rebuilding the pool of future nurses- bring back the 3yr diploma programs!!

  9. Avatar
    Dean Meenach May 25, 2017 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    Very effective article Dr. Beard. One of the obstacles in my state is that depending on the MSN or doctoral program you complete you can be looking at a significant loan amount. However, the community colleges that contribute so many entry level nurses have a real challenge compensating nursing faculty. Why would a person with $60,000 in debt from an MSN program or DNP program want to take a pay cut to teach?

  10. Avatar
    Linda Pehl, PhD, RN May 26, 2017 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    Sorry colleagues, but I disagree with many of you. The unique role of Nurse Educator requires that one be knowledgeable/skilled not only in the required knowledge/skills associated with our profession of nursing, but also knowledgeable/skilled in the role of professional educator. When nursing moved into institutions of higher learning—-we must follow the requirements of all other professionals on campus, i.e. Business, lab sciences, public education, engineering, law, etc. The terminal degree (i.e. doctorate) is the required terminal degree. An institution cannot have some faculty with a terminal degree being the Master’s and others requiring the Doctorate. There are faculty roles within a nursing program that can use the BSN and the MSN— so nurses can begin there and work toward the doctorate. Colleges/universities vary, i.e. many do require the PhD, but others accept the EdD as well as the DNP (esp. if you have a Certificate as a Nurse Educator). Those of you with MSN’s might begin by obtaining a Certificate as a Nurse Educator which would help you out until you complete a doctorate.
    There are scholarships that can be used to assist with obtaining advanced degrees; some scholarships can be partially/totally paid back by working as Nurse Educators; some Colleges/Universities have their own scholarships for nurses working toward advanced degrees.
    I do agree with those who indicate that nurse faculty need to be diverse—in age, ethnicity, gender, etc. I think that various professional associations need to be doing a better job in promoting the role of Nurse Educator for nurses, e.g. Black Nurses Association, Men in Nursing Association as well as others. Nurse educators need to represent the students in the profession they are serving.
    Salaries need to be more in line with nurses who work in the clinical settings, but many who responded also need to realize that often the Nurse Faculty on a campus are making more money than other faculty on campus due to the challenge of keeping good nurse faculty. However, when comparing salary with clinical personnel, you need to compare apples with apples and not apples with nuts. You must take into consideration not only the school holidays, but also Spring Break/Winter Break, many times summers off, etc. If you have children you also need to look at this as an advantage in that you will be off when your children are off. Many colleges/universities also offer free or discounted tuition for the children of their faculty which is a huge advantage.
    For many years, I did not teach in the summer and worked in a clinical setting doing vacation relief—-this increased my annual income and kept my technical skills at a high level because I rotated to various units/agencies. I also worked on a PRN status at various clinical sites over the years, working week-ends, holidays, etc.
    I recently retired after 53 years in nursing/nursing education. I made the best career choice I could have ever made. I hope that you will as well. It’s well worth the time and effort to not only care for patients/clients, but to also teach others how to.

    • Avatar
      Anet C Tallon June 1, 2017 at 12:06 am - Reply

      I agree with you. I was a AProf Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology in Australia and one of the first nurses to hold a university degree in the subject matter I was teaching. Most nurses just hung around long enough to take an Educators job, I was there at 26 years of age with 6 years of nursing practice under my belt already. My own teachers were in their 50s and very incompetent for the most part, when the clinical staff came to teach they were wonderful. I always believed you had to walk the talk too and I did. Can’t get a job teaching here to save my blood life!!!

  11. Avatar
    Carole Jewel May 31, 2017 at 1:27 am - Reply

    There is no nursing shortage. The hospitals want the public to believe this so they can get away with short staffing.

  12. Avatar
    Helin May 31, 2017 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    I agree with the issues discussed in the article.

  13. Avatar
    Jody MSN, RN June 8, 2017 at 12:46 am - Reply

    Desiring to help alleviate the nursing instructor shortage, I earned my MSN/Ed and can not find a teaching job. I would like to work on my PhD but need income to do so. No one mentioned this when I applied for the student loan for grad school.

    • Avatar
      Carrie A Venegas January 6, 2018 at 3:08 am - Reply

      Hi, Jody. I am just curious as to what state you reside in? I am inquiring because I received a scholarship that mandates I teach in my state for a year following my graduation which is in May. I must admit I am fearful that I will not be able to find a teaching job. Thank you!

  14. Avatar
    maryjane June 20, 2017 at 7:19 am - Reply

    great information.

Leave A Comment