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Master's in Nursing Education

Healing hands pursuing professorship

by Stephanie Small
Published September 16, 2010

You may have heard of the nation-wide nursing shortage. Long hours, high stress and lack of respect from the medical system have lead to quick burnout on the job…and fewer nurses. Despite these drawbacks, many qualified applicants are being turned away from BSN and MSN programs: 54,991 in 2009, in fact. What’s the deal? A shortage of nursing faculty.

A little background
With qualified faculty retiring and the lucrative private sector beckoning, nursing schools are hurting. In 2009, a total of 803 faculty vacancies were identified in a survey of 554 nursing schools with undergraduate and/or graduate programs across the country. Initiatives are being developed at the state and federal levels to address this shortage, including loan forgiveness and grants for those who enter the teaching field post-graduation. If you enjoy medicine, have always wanted to teach, and like the idea of the government paying for your education, this might be the career for you. Master's in Nursing Education programs are tailor-made for those interested in pursuing this path.
Our experts
Kelly Kuhns
Faculty at two master's in nursing education programs have agreed to offer their advice to potential students. Kelly A. Kuhns is an Assistant Professor at Millersville University as well as a PhD Candidate at Villanova University. Sue Diehl is the Interim Chair of the Department of Nursing at the University of Hartford.
Who is an ideal candidate for a master's in Nursing Education?
Any nurse who has a passion for teaching”, says Kuhns. “A quality nurse educator will be creative, articulate and passionate.” “The shortage of nurse educators is critical in Connecticut nursing programs, reflecting the national statistics,” Diehl notes. “We need more professors!” She indicates that an ideal candidate holds a BSN and “has demonstrated experience and expertise in specialty areas of nursing”. In other words, this is a career that demands prior on-the-ground experience. Art History majors who are sick of working at non-profits and looking for the big bucks: you’ll need to take some bio and orgo before you take the plunge into this master’s degree.
What should the potential student look for when researching these programs?
Sue Diehl
Kuhns and Diehl agree that a nursing education program should entail both theoretical and practical components. “The theoretical foundations are essential, and in the practicum experiences, the student is afforded the opportunity to apply the knowledge in a teaching setting,” says Kuhns. Diehl also suggests identifying programs that “support learning about facilitation of learning, curriculum development, evidence based practice in education and roles of the nurse educator.”
What are the advantages of having a master’s in Nursing Education as opposed to master’s in Nursing?
According to Kuhns, while you can certainly teach with a master’s in nursing, master's degrees in nursing education offer “foundational knowledge and the opportunity to engage in teaching under the supervision of a preceptor who has demonstrated excellence in nursing education.” These programs make great choices for those interested in engaging in a helping profession in a didactic manner.
What does the typical graduate do with their degree?
At both Diehl’s and Kuhn’s programs, graduates continue on to teach at the LPN, BSN, or MSN levels. Several also enroll in doctoral level programs. And although the market for professors is notoriously bad, this is one field where you probably won’t have to worry about job security. Right now, the average Nursing professor is in her mid-fifties. That means that by the time you finish your graduate program, many of them will be retiring, leaving vacancies for newly-minted staff.
Browse our directory of nursing education graduate programs