Katherine Nugent

Wanted: Young Nursing Faculty

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for Nursing recently released a featured article on the national need for younger nursing faculty (September 9, 2013).  The article called attention to the mass retirement of nursing faculty that will occur in the next 10 years and the lack of young nurses moving into faculty positions.  In fact only 14% of the current faculty in the nation are under the age of 40.   This data suggests that urgent and thoughtful actions must be implemented to ensure that sufficient faculty are employed to educate the next generation of nurses.

An appropriate question would be why aren’t young nurses choosing nursing education as a career choice.  Multiple reasons exist such as, nurses practicing in health care agencies receive higher pay than faculty, the amount of time that it takes to graduate from doctoral programs of nursing is longer then required in other fields, the rising cost of education, and the expectation that nurses should gain clinical practice experience before beginning to teach nursing.

It is important to the future nursing workforce that strategies are developed that will attract younger nurses into academic teaching.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has championed this initiative by marketing media interviews with faculty describing the benefits of teaching nursing and by providing stipends and other financial support for nurses pursuing faculty positions.  Yet, existing nursing programs in preparing the next generation of nursing faculty must do more.

This semester Southern Miss nursing implemented a BSN to PhD program to facilitate the seamless transition of recent graduates to the terminal degree.  This pathway to the PhD degree will decrease the amount of time to graduation and will also provide students with funding as graduate assistants.  It will also provide opportunity for mentoring these students in the faculty role.   In addition, we are providing opportunities for our current BSN students to develop the skills needed for future employment as a faculty through a focus on undergraduate research, opportunities for undergraduate students to publish with faculty, and to attend professional conferences where faculty are in attendance.

Katherine Nugent
Dr. Nugent, who has served as the director of the School of Nursing and associate dean of the College of Health since 2004, was named dean in July 2012, when the School of Nursing was returned to its status as a College of Nursing. Dr. Nugent came to the University of Southern Mississippi from the Medical College of Nursing , now called Georgia Health Sciences University, where she was the executive associate dDean. Dr. Nugent has extensive experience in nursing education and in administration of nursing programs, having served in a variety of leadership positions at the University of Texas at Galveston, Clemson University and Georgia Health Sciences University. She has been active in state, regional, and national nursing organizations and will serve as the president of the Collegiate Nursing Education Council of the Southern Regional Education Board beginning in November 2012.

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