Mentoring New PhD Students into the Professorial Role

Thursday, 2 August 2012: 8:50 AM

Marie C. Foley, PhD, RN
College of Nursing, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ

Learning Objective 1: understand how the current shortage of PhD prepared nurses impacts nursing and healthcare.

Learning Objective 2: articulate the need for dedicated, qualified mentors to assist new PhD students transition into the professorial role.

Traditional PhD programs have as their goal to prepare researchers.  While this outcome is paramount for success as a nursing professor; newly graduated PhD nurses without previous teaching experience often embark on tenure track positions in colleges and universities with a lack understanding of the demands and expectations of the professorial role.  Mentoring new faculty into this role is an effective way to assure success and to retain qualified nurse educators; however, experienced faculty members often decline these opportunities due to excessive time constraints. Mentoring PhD students into this role can be effective in graduating students who better understand the requirements of these roles and assist with retention and satisfaction of qualified nursing professors.  

According to the Institute of Medicine (2011), the nurse faculty shortage significantly impacts the nursing shortage. Nursing programs in the United States have difficulties recruiting faculty due to the lack of qualified candidates (NLN, 2010).  Additionally, many nurse faculty leave higher education due to a lack of understanding or preparation related to the scholarship requirements needed for tenure.

This presentation will discuss the impact of the shortage of nurses prepared at the PhD level on the nursing shortage and healthcare in general. It will include a discussion of how a Nursing PhD program in a moderate sized private university has begun to institute a formal mentoring program to effectively prepare new PhD graduates to transition more effectively into tenure track positions as nurse educators in colleges and universities. Principles of mentoring and the importance of dedicated mentors to assist PhD students become competent nurse educators as well as nurse researchers will be explicated.

Institute of Medicine. (2011). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

National League for Nurses. (2010). NLNnurse educator shortage fact sheet. Retrieved from: