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Nurse Faculty: Who are they really?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017   (0 Comments)
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This guest column from the Texas Team Nursing Education Committee (Taskforce on the Nursing Faculty Shortage) precedes an article on Texas' nursing faculty shortage scheduled to appear in the Summer 2017 issue of Texas Nursing

So who and what really is a nursing faculty member?  How do you become one?  What does it mean to be one?  What are the perks of being one?  So many questions?  Currently, over 600 schools of nursing exist in universities and colleges within the United States of America (NCSBN, 2017).  So often we hear the phase -- "A nurse is a nurse is a nurse."  Those of us who are nurses are aware that each of the specialties within the profession of nursing requires unique characteristics and skills. Being a nursing faculty member is one of those specialties benefiting from having the skills and knowledge paramount for advancing the nursing profession.  While the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN, 2017) does not provide a unique definition for nursing faculty, it does clearly speak to the expectations for "qualified faculty."  The National League for Nursing (2002) states that "the nurse educator role requires specialized preparation" (p.1).  Any nurse who is striving to become a nurse educator must carefully and thoughtfully consider the expectations of serving as an educator for the next generation of nurse.

Dr. Val Gokenbach stated, "Finding your passion will lead you to finding work that motivates and satisfies you."  Nurse educators strive to instill a passion for quality, ethical health care within a holistic health care environment to their students.  According to the 2016 Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Report, Faculty Demographics in Professional Nursing Program, schools of nursing in Texas are faced with a total of 235.5 FTE faculty vacancies. For each missing faculty member, the school of nursing impacts the number students who can be admitted.  The expertise that nurses bring from the practice arena is critical for improving the nursing profession.  The culture of academia requires distinctive skills and preparation to be successful at challenging the students and protecting the public. Nurse educators must be confident and secure in the knowledge that the students are prepared to take the NCLEX and meet minimal competences as professional nurses. For the nurse educator, the skills of test question writing, evaluating skills, and directing the learning environment are important for developing competent nurses. Professional accreditation standards for academic facilities must be carefully and thoroughly addressed by the faculty members. Understanding key concerns such as faculty-student ratio requirements, course development assessment and evaluation, and tenure are all issues the nurse faculty must consider and understand.  

So what does all of this mean and how does it affect the nurses in Texas?  The shortage of nursing faculty, at all level of academia (LVN, ADN, BSN, MSN, Ph.D., DNP), directly influences the number of students that can be admitted to any school. When a school has vacancies within their faculty ranks, the number of students accepted has to be addressed.  Those individuals who are hired as nurse educators must meet the accreditation criteria. One of the key criteria for nurse educators is the need for them to hold a MSN with a designated number of semester hours related to education.  Individuals who have thought it might be nice to work as a nurse educator must educate themselves on these characteristics and skills required to successfully administer the educator role. If additional education is needed to be able to step into an educator's role, professional goals should be established to strive for those accreditation levels.

The saying goes, "When you're a nurse, you know that every day you will touch a life or a life will touch yours" (Nurseslabs).  This touching of lives becomes even more important when a person serves as a nurse educator.  They see the lives touched both by themselves and by those they have instructed toward delivering ethical, quality holistic care.  Educators, at each and every level of academia, touch individuals but also like the rings made by a stone thrown into a lake, many additional people are touched by those students who are the result of the educator's commitment to excellence.  As Texas nurse educators, we invite you to join us in a rewarding but challenging career.



Gokenbach, V. (n.d.). Quote.

National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), (2017),  Nursing Faculty Qualifications and Roles,

National League for Nursing Board of Governors (2002). Position statement: The preparation of nurse educators.

Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies, (2016). Nursing education program information survey: Faculty demographics in professional nursing programs 2016. file:///C:/Users/Carol/Downloads/2016_RN_FacultyDemographics.pdf


Taskforce Membership

Patricia Allen, Ed.D., RN, CNE, ANEF, FAAN


Texas Tech University HSC, School of Nursing

Lubbock, Texas


Joyce Batcheller DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

Nurse Executive Advisor, Leadership

The Center for the Advancement of Healthcare Professionals

AMN Healthcare

Dallas, Texas


Carol Boswell, Ed.D., RN, CNE, ANEF, FAAN


Texas Tech University HSC, School of Nursing

Odessa, Texas


Sharon Cannon, Ed.D., RN, ANEF

Regional Dean and Professor

Texas Tech University HSC, School of Nursing

Odessa, Texas


Michael Evans, Ph.D., FAAN

Professor and Dean

Texas Tech University HSC, School of Nursing

Lubbock, Texas


Marvella Starlin, MSN, RN

Director of Nursing Education

Cisco College

Abilene, Texas


Susan Sportsman, Ph.D, RN, FAAN

Thought Leader

Elsevier Corporation

Dallas, Texas


Jayson T. Valerio DNP, RN

Interim Dean

Nursing & Allied Health Division

South Texas College

McAllen, Texas

Texas Nurses Association

Texas Affiliate of ANA | 4807 Spicewood Springs Rd., Bldg 3, Austin TX

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