If it is your desire to become a nurse, the long-term prospects for your employment are great! The U.S. Department of Labor projects the creation of more than 587,000 new nursing positions nationally by 2016, with a nurse vacancy rate of approximately 6%. This statistic is projected to grow to 12% by this year (2010) and to 20% by the year 2020. Despite the national trend and the above statistics, the present economic downturn has led to a temporary decrease in opportunities for nursing graduates. Today, nationally, we are seeing a temporary shift in job opportunities to only include acute-care and emergency-room nurses. These two fields appear to be in great demand currently.
While this demand for well-educated nurses is higher than ever, just as compelling is the need for nursing instructors. Although the current shift in nursing employment is short-term, educators in nursing are at an all time high. This is a perfect time to consider being an instructor in this highly specialized field. As the other dynamics impacting the nursing shortage play out, including the aging nursing workforce and the continued growth of our healthcare organizations, there will continue to be numerous opportunities for nursing graduates and faculty to make a difference within the communities we serve.
Nursing instructors have many responsibilities, including preparing course materials, supervising the students’ clinical and laboratory work, discussing with colleagues teaching and research projects, offering advice to students regarding academic issues as well as career possibilities. Further, educators moderate classroom discussions, evaluate students’ work and provide grades and revise the course content and methods of instruction. Finally, the instructors maintain student records.
Postsecondary nursing educators teach various aspects of patient care not only in the classrooms, but also in the clinical settings. Their teaching includes demonstrating patient care in hospitals and clinics. Some instructors combine teaching with research. They teach undergraduate students subjects such as community healthcare, mental health nursing and pharmacology. Often, they supervise their students internships and research work. Instructors need good communication and organization skills. They must stay current with the latest technologies and information by attending professional conferences and reading literature. Furthermore, some nursing instructors are involved in recruiting students.
Faculty shortages at nursing schools across the country are limiting student capacity at a time when the need for nurses continues to grow. There are several reasons that contribute to this emerging crisis:
- Increasing job competition from clinical sites
- Budget constraints
- Faculty age continues to climb, narrowing the number of productive years nurse educators can teach
- Higher compensation in clinical and private-sector settings is luring current and potential nursing instructors away from teaching
- A wave of faculty retirement is expected across the US over the next decade
- Master’s and doctoral programs in nursing are not producing a large enough pool of potential nurse educators to meet the demand
Nurses’ outlook for employment in the future looks fantastic, but one might consider being an educator in today’s economy, simply due to the faculty shortages we are seeing. Typically, full-time nursing instructors have flexible work schedules. Depending on the educational setting, some teachers have classes at night and during the weekends, especially at community colleges and schools that have a large number of working adult students. Some of the instructors teach on a part-time basis. Beyond classroom time and office hours the faculty can mostly choose when they work and how much time to allocate to their various tasks.