Honors BSN Students to Nursing Scholars: a Fast Track Approach to the Nurse Faculty Shortage

Tuesday, 19 November 2013: 10:54 AM

Chrystal Leigh Lewis, MSN, RN
Capstone College of Nursing, University of Alabma, Tuscaloosa, AL
Christine A. Feeley, MSN, PhD, RN
Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Larry Slater, PhD, CCRN, RN-BC
New York University College of Nursing, New York, NY
Bettina H. Riley, PhD, RN
College of Nursing, Community Mental Health Nursing, University of South Alabama, Mobille, AL

An underlying problem fueling the current national nursing shortage is a crippling paucity of nursing faculty. AACN (2012) estimates the current faculty vacancy rate at 7.6%, which is compounded by the advanced average age (52 - 61 years based on rank) of doctorally-prepared nursing faculty that are nearing retirement. Thus the largest unanswered questions consistently echoed throughout nursing education are how to increase the number of nursing faculty and how to do so in an expedient manner. The IOM Report on the Future of Nursing (2011) recommended doubling the number of doctorally-prepared nurses by 2020, which may be only the first step to alleviating the shortage of not only faculty, but also practicing bachelors and masters-prepared nurses.

This panel discussion provides a case study presentation on how completing an undergraduate honors program in nursing facilitated quick entry into and/or successful completion of nursing doctoral programs for four students. The honors curriculum provided these graduates with experience in fully developing a research study from proposal to implementation, including the dissemination of the findings at regional and national conferences, laying a solid foundation for doctoral-level studies. Within 5 years of completing the honors program, all four graduates were either nursing faculty members or post-doctoral scholars, demonstrating how the honors program experience has eased the transition to nursing scholar and educator. Facilitated transitions provided by undergraduate nursing honors programs may be integral in alleviating the nursing faculty shortage and helping to meet the IOM goal of doubling the number of doctorally prepared nurses by 2020.