“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
-William Arthur Ward
The world of academia is one filled with tremendous growth and learning for both the student and teacher. Nursing education is a world unto itself because nursing is both a profession and a practice. Thus the road to becoming a nurse educator is somewhat unique. Because of the current nurse faculty shortage, which is expected to grow, the time is ripe for experienced nurses who are interested in transitioning to a teaching role. According to a recent report by the American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN), the national nurse faculty vacancy rate is 7.6 % and most of the vacancies (88.3%) are faculty positions requiring or preferring a doctoral degree. As a new nurse educator or an aspiring one, you will need to consider many factors:
- The role and requirements of the nurse educator
- The difference between an academic or hospital based educator
- Past teaching experience
- The level of education required for role
- Related experience
- Available resources
There are many ways to segue into a teaching role. For example, you may “test the waters” by becoming a preceptor, an adjunct clinical instructor, or a guest lecturer. These types of roles can help you learn more about the role and see if a teaching position is right for you. As a new nurse educator, you will also need a good support system, role models, and a mentor. Reading available literature is also important and there are a plethora of resources out there. I wrote my book, The New Nurse Educator: Mastering Academe to serve as a practical role development book for all nurse educators. The writing of this book was inspired by my journey into the world of academe. It includes all of the information and advice that I learned from mentors, role models, teachers, students, literature, and personal experiences.
When I transitioned into academe, I read everything that was available, but I still had unanswered questions. I also did not fully comprehend the concept of teaching, scholarship, and service. Tenure and academic freedom were also terms that I knew but did not know how they related to my new role. Knowing how to develop a curriculum vita instead of a resume and how to prepare for my interview were things I learned after the fact. It would have been so helpful to understand these things before I applied for a tenure track position.
Because of my past experience in Staff Development I was knowledgeable about teaching and learning theories especially with the adult learner. However, I soon found out that teaching an entire course is different that conducting an orientation or developing a content specific course offering. Fortunately for me, I had wonderful mentors and role models at The College of New Rochelle and they all helped me in a different way. I also enrolled in a doctoral program at Adelphi University the year after I accepted my teaching position, which helped me to develop more fully as a teacher and a scholar. I hope my book will inspire more nurses to become educators. I also believe that because it is based on my journey into the world of nursing education that it will help all current and future nurse educators. For me, the past seven years have been filled with tremendous growth, learning, joy, and passion and that is my wish for all of you.
Nurse educators: What challenges have you experienced during the transition into academia? How did you overcome such challenges? Share your thoughts, experiences and tips below!