We recently heard Dr. Beverly Malone of the National League for Nursing talk about the direct correlation between the shortage of nurses at the bedside, the qualified applicants being turned away from most nursing schools around the country and the shortage of nurse faculty. In baccalaureate nursing degree programs, such as the one we offer at UNC-Chapel Hill, our faculty are educated at the doctoral degree level, qualifying them as nurse educators who also are knowledgeable about nursing research. Leadership, scholarship, providing excellent direct patient care at the bedside, creating innovative approaches to managing patient care and health outcomes are linked to the quality — educational background and experience — of a nursing school’s faculty.
Yet, we have a huge gap that continues to widen. There are not enough doctoral students who will become the faculty to teach our current and future nurses. Why? One reason is support. At a public university like Chapel Hill, we are only able to provide support to doctoral students IF we have T-32 government training grants tied to our research projects that offer stipends to students. But, this support for nursing is decreasing nationally, and our only other option to be competitive with other universities vying for the same doctoral candidates, is to offer private scholarship support. To date, there is ONE privately funded doctoral scholarship in our School. It takes $26,000 per year to support one doctoral student. A $100,000 investment in an endowed scholarship fund will guarantee that support and the continuity of faculty to teach students to become nurses. We raise this issue because public institutions of our caliber must be responsive to public needs, yet without these key resources, it will be impossible to meet these needs.
Our Doctoral Education Committee told me yesterday that they are concerned that the public does not understand why it is necessary and important to educate doctorally-prepared nurses. What do you think?
Here, I am attaching a Wall Street Journal article about the economy, the nursing shortage and how critical it is for us to have qualified nurses giving us care. Imagine the risks, then think about the link between the nursing shortage and the faculty shortage and what you might possibly do to help.