Recognizing the Need: Having the Vision

Tuesday, 8 July 2008: 10:30 AM
Susan M. O'Brien, EdD, RN , School of Nursing, Thomas Edison State College, Trenton, NJ
Louise Riley, MS, RN, BC , School of Nursing, Thomas Edison State College, Trenton, NJ
Jovita Solomon-Duarte, MSN, RN, CCRN , School of Nursing, Thomas Edison State College, Trenton, NJ
Since 1990, Schools of Nursing across the country have worked successfully to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of their student populations. Nationally, minority nursing student representation is 24%. However, there remains a shortage of minority nursing faculty to serve as role models to the increasingly diverse nursing student population. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, less than 10% of the nation's nursing educators are people of color, and to complicate matters, many of these minority educators are approaching retirement age (AACN, 2006).

In 2001, Thomas Edison State College offered a new online RN to BSN program. Approximately 25% of the enrolled students were from racial and ethnic minorities. Since online education was a new concept to nursing education, the School of Nursing was offering a free 32 week Certificate in Distance Education Program to faculty who were interested in learning a new teaching methodology and who would agree to teach one course per year for Thomas Edison State College. Specific recruitment efforts to attract minority faculty to this new program continued for the next two years but were very time consuming and produced less than satisfactory results.

Realizing the seriousness of the minority nurse educator shortage and recognizing that online education, which was not limited by geographic boundaries, could be used as a tool to decrease the shortage, a specific online program was developed in which the minority educator, a scarce resource, could be educated and shared nationally. Due to the need for dedicated resources and the high estimated cost of such a venture, an application for federal funding was submitted to the Human Resource Services Administration. In 2004, the Thomas Edison State College Minority Nurse Educator Program received funding of approximately $600,000 over a three year period.