ANNAPOLIS – Maryland students who want to be nurses may find it more and more difficult to find qualified people to teach them, a new report shows.
Nursing programs at the state’s colleges and universities turned away 2,357 acceptable applications last year, partly because of inadequate faculty, according to the report by the Maryland Board of Nursing and the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
Nurse educators need a master’s degree to teach nursing at the state’s many community colleges. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the preferred degree for faculty at a 4-year college is a Doctor of Science in Nursing or a Nursing Ph.D.
“If we want to expand – and we are expanding – there is an ongoing need for faculty at the doctorally prepared level,” said Dr. Marilyn Halstead, director of graduate nursing programs at Towson University.
Nurse educators at the University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMB), like many other institutions, are retiring faster than they can be replaced, and the gap between practicing nurses and nurse educators is growing.
Most clinical programs require one faculty member to a maximum of eight students–more often four to six–said Dr. Martha Hill, dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.
In the last five years, enrollments in baccalaureate and associate nursing degree programs have risen 38 percent and 55 percent respectively, but there has been a decline in master’s and doctoral nursing program enrollments, said Judy Hendrickson, director of career and workforce education for the Higher Education Commission.
She suggests that part of the reason for this decline is a lack of programs specifically tailored for nurse education.
Bowie State, UMB, Coppin State, Salisbury, Towson and Johns Hopkins universities currently offer Master of Science programs in nursing.
Of the schools that offer graduate nursing education, only UMB and Towson offer teaching certificates in nursing and master’s degrees with a nurse educator focus.
Graduate programs also require a greater financial commitment, a determining factor for many student nurses who can take the nursing National Council Licensure Exam and become licensed with a bachelor or associate degree.
“We have available a number of scholarships, grants and fellowships for students who want to become nurse educators,” said Hendrickson, “but we don’t feel that these financial incentives are widely known and utilized.”
This year, the state started a scholarship program for people who want to teach nursing. Applicants may also qualify for grants to cover living expenses.
Incentives to teach nursing after graduation do not generally encourage people to teach. Nurses can earn more practicing nursing than teaching it.
The average starting salary for nursing faculty in Maryland is $40,000-$45,000, or about $11,000-$17,000 below the nationwide mean for all nursing faculty. Base pay for a staff Registered Nurse in the state ranges from $55-$65,000 per year.
The report makes several recommendations intended to increase the number of teachers for nursing students.
The Higher Education Commission suggests tailoring the Health Personnel Shortage Incentive Grant, which is funded by state physician licensing fees and gives grants to programs that graduate students in badly needed health career fields, to make a grant of up to $1,500 per graduating nursing education student.
The commission would also like to launch a statewide recruiting campaign and ask more institutions to offer online or evening/weekend graduate degree programs. Among the nursing programs surveyed in the study, an overwhelming number of administrators said asking university presidents to increase nurse faculty salaries, plus providing retention bonuses and stipends to draw new faculty, would make the greatest difference. – 30 – – 09282006