From Bedside Care Expert to Novice Educator: Perceptions of New Nurse Educators

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: 9:10 AM

Kathy Jean Roth, MSN, BSN, RN
Divison of Nursing, University of Mary, Bismarck, ND, USA

Few studies address nurses’ perceptions of the transition from the role of staff nurse to the role of nurse educator in an academic setting.  Understanding how nurses make the transition from the role of staff nurse to the role of nurse educator is an area that needs to be studied.  While the role of nurse faculty member can be very rewarding, it can also be a very challenging and daunting role, especially for new faculty members.  The nurse faculty shortage is an ongoing and future problem.  The shortage of nurse faculty is established as a reason that schools turn away undergraduate nursing applicants.  Addressing the faculty shortage may help to alleviate the nursing shortage.  The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of a sample of newly employed nurse educators regarding their transition from the role of staff nurse to the role of nurse educator in an academic setting.  The theoretical framework for this study was the concept model of novice to expert by Patricia Benner.  This study utilized the qualitative research design of phenomenology.  Semi-structured interviews were conducted.  The sample consisted of six nurses who had worked less than three years in academic settings and worked at least 30 hours per week as nurse educators.  The Master’s prepared nurses graduated from three different nurse educator programs and were employed by four different undergraduate nursing programs.  Three major categories that were derived from the interview data included: The Interest Is Sparked, Realities of the Nurse Educator Role, and Recommendations for Success for Others Who Become Nurse Educators in Academic Settings.  The majority of interviewees indicated that they had positive attitudes toward educating students and acting as preceptors while they were staff nurses.  They became interested in becoming nurse educators because of these experiences.  After becoming nurse educators, the participants then experienced positive aspects, as well as challenges which seemed overwhelming at times, related to the nurse educator role.  The interviewees readily gave recommendations for improvements for nurse educator graduate curricula and for employers to help others transition to the role of nurse educator in academic settings.  Recommended changes to both graduate curricula and orientation programs for academic institutions that hire new nurse educators were formulated.  Recommended changes for graduate education programs to better prepare prospective nurse educators include: more time spent in classroom settings, more extensive job shadowing experiences, and increasing opportunities to assimilate the multi-faceted role of the professional nurse educator.  Recommended changes for the academic setting include incorporating a formal orientation process for new nurse educators, and providing mentoring experiences for new nurse educators.  Equally important in the academic setting for new nurse educators is the ability to teach class content that is familiar to the new educator, and the ability to teach the same class content each year if they choose.  This information can improve the transition for new nurse educators in academic settings.  Implementation of these measures may help decrease the ongoing and pending shortage of nurse educators; addressing this transition could positively, though indirectly, impact the current and future staff nurse shortage.