It is important that future nurses have an extraordinary nursing educational experience. Nurse educators play a critical role in the ever-changing healthcare landscape. A Nurse educators’ major purpose is to strengthen the nursing workforce through education and mentoring. Nurse educators work in both clinical and academic settings. They teach at hospitals and traditional or online colleges, depending on whether they are providing advanced practice preparation or introductory-level nursing education. Nurses who enjoy working in a variety of environments with a range of people may enjoy this role (“What makes a Good Nurse Educator”, 2016).
Throughout my career I have encountered outstanding educators. Those that stood out most were able to effectively explain subjects to fit my learning style as well as the learning style of other nurses in the class. Some of the most effective nurse educators possessed a combination of hard skills such as education and work experience as well soft skills such as passion, communication, and empathy (Dean & East, 2019). They knew how to combine in person teaching with current technology to help making learning the material faster and to simulate conditions at the bedside. Some of the best educators I encountered helped me to feel prepared to work with patients by giving me clear objectives that were measured by return demonstration and validation. This resulted in me feeling competent before going to perform tasks on the unit.
I have spent a lot of my nursing career working as an agency or contract nurse. My hospital orientation experience was always very short and there was a large amount of content to learn. The best nurse educators made me feel confident that I was receiving the information I needed to provide safe patient care while adhering to hospital policies and procedures. They made sure to provide their contact information so I could reach out if I had questions. Some would even come to the unit to visit in the first few shifts to make sure I was adjusting comfortably. This reduced anxiety and I felt supported.
The worst nursing education experiences were ones where the orientation program wasn’t streamlined to meet my learning needs. Sometimes I had to sit through programs that were designed for new nurses or nurses that had more time on orientation. The educator was only interested in making sure validation sheets were completed but they didn’t offer any follow up support in case questions arose. Some relied too heavily on self-learning exercises and were not available in person to answer questions.
I have always been interested in becoming a Nursing Professional Development Specialist (NPDS). The hospital environment is very fast paced. Policies, procedures, and guidelines by regulatory bodies change frequently. Hospital nurses often joke that they feel like they are in a new place whenever they come back from a few days off. The NPDS ends up being your lifeline for staying abreast of changes in your organization or on your unit.
The goal of professional development is to assist nurses in cultivating and maintaining their abilities, strengthening their nursing practice as a professional nurse, and accomplishing academic and professional objectives (Bastable, 2019). They work in a wide range of practice settings and care contexts. NPDS orient, precept, and supervise the competences of staff nurses, new graduates, and student nurses working at the point of care in clinical settings (Sadler, 2018).
They teach you how to perform self-assessment and validate your skills, they also help you to gain confidence through return demonstration and feedback. They evaluate your training, experiences, successes, in-services, and continuing education to assist you in identifying ways for improving your competency, practice, and quality at the point of care.
Demand for nursing care is higher due to several trends in the healthcare industry. Some of these trends include:
- Healthcare Reform making access to healthcare easier for previously underserved people.
- Increasing Aging Population
- Physician Shortage especially primary care physicians
- Closure of rural hospitals
- Patients being more educated
- Rise in popularity low-cost urgent care clinics
- Increased demand for advanced practice master’s and Doctoral prepared nurses
- Shortage of Nurse educators
- Increased reliance on technology, telehealth and informatics
In order to care for a greater number of patients, more nurses will be required. According to the American Nurses Association there will be more registered nurse jobs available by 2022 than any other profession. According to a Nursing Times article, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 11 million nurses will be needed to mitigate the growing nursing shortage. From 2016 to 2026, employment prospects for nurses are expected to rise at a fifteen percent greater rate than all other professions (AACN Fact Sheet—Nursing, 2019). Increasing the number of nurses will mean increasing the number of nurse educators.
Faculty shortages at nursing programs are limiting the number of students that can be accepted at a time when the demand for registered nurses is at a historical high. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) report on 2019-2020 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Programs, U.S. nursing schools turned down 80,407 qualified applications for baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2019. Faculty shortages were cited by most nursing schools responding to the poll as a major cause for not accepting all qualified applicants into their programs (“Nursing Faculty Shortage”, 2020).
Before the pandemic, the medical industry, notably nursing, was undergoing significant changes. The need for Telehealth and Nursing informatics in nursing has increased dramatically with the Covid-19 pandemic. Telemedicine has had a good impact on workloads, resulting in a decrease in burnout syndrome, which has been a recurring problem since the outbreak began (Silva et al., 2020). According to the Center for Diseases (CDC) Telehealth has reduced exposure to disease for healthcare staff and clients, conserved personal protective equipment (PPE), and lowered demand on healthcare facilities. With both providers and patients utilizing telemedicine and remote monitoring tools expertise in nursing informatics has become vital to healthcare delivery.
According to census forecasts, all members of the baby boom generation will be 70 or older by 2030. Many experts believe that as this significant portion of the population ages and requires more medical care, the healthcare system will become increasingly burdened and stressed (Bastable, 2019). The current nursing workforce is under strain as the elderly live longer. More nurses will be required to relieve the load on the current staff. To meet the demand for more qualified nurses, additional nurse educators will be required. Population growth, increased numbers of aged Americans, and the retirement of practicing physicians, will lead to a substantial physician shortage in the United States. According to a Merch, 2017 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the United States will have a physician shortfall of between 40,800 and 104,900 by 2030 (Mann, 2017). The report revealed that the number of new primary care physicians and other medical specialists is not keeping up with the demands of an aging and increasing population. By 2030, the primary care physician shortfall is expected to be between 8,700 to 43,100 (Mann, 2017). As a result of the projected Primary Care physician shortage Family Nurse Practitioners are expected to be in more demand.
According to the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) Between January 2013 and February 2020, nearly 100 rural hospitals closed. Prior to the hospital closures of these counties had fewer doctors than counties without any closures. When hospitals closed, the number of doctors reduced even further (Office GAO, 2020). Closure of rural hospitals is another factor increasing the need for family nurse practitioners. Almost a quarter of the United States population live in rural areas where the closure of hospitals and physician shortage makes access to healthcare more challenging. Family nurse practitioners can mitigate this situation by providing primary care to clients that would otherwise have long wait times to see a physician (“21 Trends We expect to see,” 2021).
Sadler, F. (2018, September 14). 3 Critical Components of Nursing Professional Development Across the Care Continuum. Relias. https://www.relias.com/blog/3-components-of-professional-development-for-nurses
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Bastable, S. B. (2019). Nurse as educator: Principles of teaching and learning for nursing practice (5th ed.). Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett.
What Makes a Good Nurse Educator? (2016, November 22). UTA Online. Retrieved August 4, 2021, from https://academicpartnerships.uta.edu/articles/healthcare/what-makes-a-good-nurse-educator.aspx
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Mann, S. (2017, March 14th). Research Shows Shortage of More than 100,000 Doctors by 2030. AAMC. Retrieved August 4, 2021, from https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/research-shows-shortage-more-100000-doctors-2030
Reichel, C., March 30, T. J. R., & 2018. (2018, March 30). Nurse practitioners help fill primary care gaps. The Journalist’s Resource. Retrieved August 4, 2021, from https://journalistsresource.org/health/nurse-practitioners-primary-care/
Office, U. S. G. A. (2020, December 22). Rural Hospital Closures: Affected Residents Had Reduced Access to Health Care Services. Retrieved August 4, 2021, from https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-21-93
AACN Fact Sheet—Nursing Faculty Shortage. (2020, September). Retrieved August 5th, 2021 from https://www.aacnnursing.org/News-Information/Fact-Sheets/Nursing-Faculty-Shortage
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