Advancing the Science of Nursing Education Through Peer Mentoring

Sunday, 30 July 2017: 1:35 PM

Jeanette McNeill, DrPH
Alison Merrill, PhD
Katrina Einhellig, PhD, MSN, BSN
Kristin Schams, DNP
School of Nursing, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO, USA

Background and Significance: The shortage of qualified faculty to teach nursing at the associate, baccalaureate or higher degree level is a challenge to nursing education and practice and has contributed to the nursing shortage in the United States. Increasingly, PhD programs in nursing and most Doctorate of Nursing Practice programs do not explicitly prepare graduates as educators. Students in some programs have electives in nursing education available to them, but often a new doctoral prepared nurse begins a faculty position with little or no teaching experience or educational course work. Similarly, faculty with master’s preparation, often teaching in Associate Degree programs, may not have had specific educational preparation for their role. At all educational levels, those new to the faculty role are often expert clinicians, but not experienced educators. Faculty development becomes the task of the school of nursing, and may or may not provide enough preparation or mentoring for the novice to feel confident in the new role. Certification as a nurse educator (CNE) with specific preparation on several areas of competency identified by the National League for Nursing (NLN) can help bridge this gap in preparation to be a nurse educator. Further, the certification as a CNE aligns with the NLN and Johnson and Johnson Faculty Leadership and Mentoring program which seeks to identify goals for nurse mentorships and ways to enhance mentorship programs throughout nursing. The NLN has designated six essential leadership characteristics that guide nursing educators toward paths that increase professionalism and ensure competence: knowledge, risk taking, change agents, visionary, passion, and relationship builder (Young, 2011). The CNE review course encourages nurse educators to increase their knowledge base and further their understanding of teaching pedagogies and best practices in education. Peer mentors also foster other educators to take risks as they prepare and sit for the challenging CNE exam. Within this process, it enhances the passion that educators feel for the profession of teaching, and they finish the course with a renewed sense of purpose and a vision for the future. The CNE course offered in this setting provides a mentorship model that enhances the abilities of the educators involved in this course, as well as fostering relationships within the academic setting that are focused on continued improvement of all educators and a collegiality that maximizes the learning environment.

Purpose: At a Rocky Mountain area university school of nursing, an initiative was undertaken to increase the number of Certified Nurse Educators (CNE). The School of Nursing (SON) recognized the value of the NLN Certified Nurse Educator designation in promoting excellence and recognizing the advanced specialty of the academic nurse educator. Faculty holding the CNE credential serve as role models and mentors to the healthcare and academic communities, as well as to students. This model of excellence is especially relevant to PhD in Nursing Education programs.

Methods: The CNE’s in the setting developed the course which included both face to face CNE workshops sessions and a online platform providing supplemental learning materials. The test blueprint for the exam was used to plan course objectives, topics and strategies; the sessions were conceived, developed, and implemented by experienced full-time faculty who already hold CNE certification. Topics included the eight identified educator competencies. Content emphasis was determined by the percentage weighting for each area on the exam: Facilitate learning, facilitate learner development and socialization, use assessment and evaluation strategies, participate in curriculum design and program evaluation, engaging in continuous quality improvement, functioning as a change agent and leader, participating in the academic environment and the nurse educator as a scholar. Strategies were selected to foster discussion and interaction among participants, and provide opportunities for mentoring by the CNE faculty, consistent with evidence based approaches outlined by Billings and Halstead (2015).The CNE preparatory textbook (Caputi, 2015) and other resources were provided by the SON for use of faculty preparing for the exam; examples of case studies and CNE example questions were used to facilitate application to classroom and clinical learning. Nine full time and two adjunct faculty participated in the first offering of this course as they prepared to take the CNE exam.

Outcomes: Successful completion of the exam was, and continues to be, the intended outcome of this faculty development activity, adding to the ranks of CNEs at the SON. Thus far, there has been a 100% pass rate for those taking the exam. Additionally, the peer review process has been revitalized with several requests for peer review of teaching as a result of attention to evidence based strategies and engagement in continuous quality improvement. Continuation of the initiative and sustainability of the review course have been addressed through updating materials and continued access to the course website for all interested faculty.