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Running head: MASTERS CLINICAL NURSE TO NURSE EDUCATOR

The Transition from Masters Prepared Clinical Nurse to Nurse Educator


Ellice Hayek
Youngstown State University

MASTERS CLINICAL NURSE TO NURSE EDUCATOR

Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to examine the transition from masters prepared clinical nurse to
nurse educator. As the demand for additional registered nurses (RNs) continues to rise, the
shortage of prepared nursing faculty becomes more apparent. To address this issue, nursing
schools have hired masters prepared clinical nurses as educators (Anderson, 2009).
Unfortunately, these nurses have not received the necessary education to become nurse
educators, leading to a challenging transition from clinical nurse to nurse educator (Schoening,
2013). As a result, they experience a decrease sense of power and leadership, thus reducing
academic, clinical, administrative, and political involvement. To resolve this issue, a strong, well
developed orientation program is proposed. This will create a supportive environment, guiding
masters prepared clinical nurses through their first year as novice nurse educators.

MASTERS CLINICAL NURSE TO NURSE EDUCATOR

The Transition from Masters Prepared Clinical Nurse to Nurse Educator


By the year 2022, it is projected that there will be 526,800 vacant nursing positions in the
United States (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). The Institute of Medicine (2010) suggests that
to be prepared to meet this and other future healthcare demands, the number of registered nurses
(RNs) with baccalaureate degrees must increase to 80% by the year 2020. This call for action
poses a dilemma for nursing schools. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2014)
released a report citing a shortage in faculty as one of the most influential factors leading to the
inability to address the need for more RNs. In past years, to address the faculty shortage and
meet the demand for more RNs, nursing schools have been taking on masters prepared clinical
nurses as educators (Anderson, 2009). Although this addresses the need for faculty, it results in
an unprepared staff. Many masters prepared clinical nurses have not received the proper
education to become nurse educators. As a result, they experience a challenging transition from
clinical nurse to nurse educator, creating a profound professional issue. They have described
their feelings during the transition as unprepared and unguided, using the analogy of being tossed
in to swim, or left to sink (Schoening, 2013). The purpose of this paper is to explore the
historical aspects leading up to the transition from masters prepared clinical nurse to nurse
educator, the ideology of the transition, and the ramifications of nursing power, politics, and
leadership. Last, a proposal will be presented to resolve the difficult transition from clinical nurse
to nurse educator.
Historical Aspects
Starting in 1970, the focus of masters nursing programs transitioned from an emphasis in
nurse educator and administration to a concentration in clinical specialties, leading to a decrease
in the number of nurse educator programs offered by graduate schools (American Nurses

MASTERS CLINICAL NURSE TO NURSE EDUCATOR

Association, 1969; McKevitt, 1986, as cited in Schoening, 2013). By 1989, only 11% of 92
graduate nursing programs offered a track for those wishing to pursue a nurse educator masters
degree (Oermann & Jamison, 1989, as cited in Schoening, 2013). These historical aspects, in
combination with an influx of students pursuing a nursing degree, have led to a severe shortage
in masters prepared nurse educators. Thus, leading to the transition of masters prepared clinical
nurses with minimal formal instruction in teaching into the academic setting.
Ideology
The ideology of the transition from clinical nurse to nurse educator can be illustrated
through the anticipation and expectation phase of Schoenings (2013) Nurse Educator Transition
model. For nurse educators, this phase starts with their decision to enter academia. They begin to
reflect on how much they have enjoyed the positive and successful experiences serving as
preceptors to new graduates and nursing students in the clinical setting. They visualize
themselves as change agents in the academic setting. Additionally, the prospect of enjoying
summer breaks, predetermined schedules, and the ability to pursue research seems enticing
(Schoening, 2013). Prior to entering the academic setting, masters prepared clinical nurses feel
confident that their clinical experience, void of official instruction in nursing education, will be
sufficient to guide them in educating a classroom of nursing students (Anderson, 2009).
Ramifications of Nursing Power, Politics, and Leadership
Involvement in academic organizations generates a collaborative community conducive
to professional growth, which leads to a sense of nursing empowerment. A sense of nursing
empowerment produces leaders in nursing education; providing them with the confidence to
unite in the quest for innovative and effective ideas that generate positive change within the
nursing community on the academic, clinical, administrative, and political level (Hebenstriet,

MASTERS CLINICAL NURSE TO NURSE EDUCATOR

2012). Unfortunately, novice nurse educators describe their entrance into the academic setting as
lacking support and isolating, with little guidance (Duffy, 2013). As a result, professional
development is reduced, and very little nursing empowerment and leadership is achieved. Thus,
innovative ideas leading to academic, clinical, administrative, and political involvement and
change by new nurse educators is minimal; a truly damaging position for the development of
nursing as a strong discipline.
Proposal to Resolve
A structured orientation program developed by Baker (2010) proposes to resolve the
difficult transition from masters prepared clinical nurse to nurse educator. The orientation
program, a year long, consists of three basic parts; scheduled meeting times with planned
instruction, surveys for self-assessment, and mentors. The scheduled meeting times, held by the
dean and/or the nursing department chair, are an opportunity to provide informative materials to
the novice educators. The first meeting consists of the fundamentals of the nursing program, such
as the school curriculum and mission. The additional meetings are seminars covering strategies
for instruction, curriculum development, information on professional development, as well as a
time for discussion concerning professional issues that may occur among the faculty and
students. These meetings are confidential and structured to create a supportive relationship
among the novice staff and dean/chair. Additional and voluntary informational courses on
instructional design may also be offered. Baker (2010) uses self-assessment surveys at the
beginning and end of the orientation program to assess the learning needs of the novice
educators. These survey acts as a guiding tool for the content of the scheduled instructional
meetings, and evaluates the efficacy of the orientation. Last, mentors are assigned to each novice
nurse educator. The mentors are chosen for their reputation of professional leadership in nursing

MASTERS CLINICAL NURSE TO NURSE EDUCATOR

education and provided with guidelines detailing their role. Mentors are expected to meet with
the novice nurse educators to establish and accomplish objectives and goals throughout the
academic year.
Analysis of the proposal can be observed through the results of Bakers (2010) study.
Three years following its establishment, eleven novice nurse educators had gone through the
orientation program, with only one leaving. The novice nurse educators who participated in the
program reported that it provided them with the necessary support and knowledge to effectively
integrate into the academic setting. The success of the orientation program can be attributed to its
unique characteristic of instructional meetings tailored to the specific needs of the novice
educators, in combination with time for discussion concerning professional issues.
Conclusion
As the demand for RNs rises, clinically prepared masters nurses are pulled into the
academic setting to address the faculty shortage. Although equipped with valuable clinical
knowledge, these nurses lack the formal education necessary for a smooth transition into the
educator role. As a result, they are unprepared to teach, and their professional involvement is at
risk, reducing their opportunity to feel empowered as academic leaders. Through strong, welldeveloped orientation programs, masters prepared clinical nurses will be welcomed, valued,
supported, and guided through their first year as novice nurse educators.

MASTERS CLINICAL NURSE TO NURSE EDUCATOR

References
American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2014, January 21). Nursing shortage fact sheet.
Retrieved from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/NrsgShortageFS.pdf
Anderson, J. K. (2009). The work-role transition of expert clinician to novice academic educator.
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Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014, January 8). Occupational outlook handbook: Registered
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MASTERS CLINICAL NURSE TO NURSE EDUCATOR

Schoening, A. M. (2013). From bedside to classroom: The nurse educator transition model.
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