New Pathways to Becoming a Nurse Educator
New Pathways to Becoming a Nurse Educator

Kara Harvey, BSN’18, and Mesha Luksan, APRN, have been center stage since they were little girls, playing “teacher” with their siblings and friends, handing out assignments and scratching on makeshift chalkboards.

They were born teachers and are now embracing their destiny.

The beneficiary is the nursing profession, which confronts a growing crisis as eager students are turned away from teaching institutions due to a shortage of faculty, a problem that promises to become acute over the next 10 years as nurse-educators retire.

Alert to this growing threat, the College of Nursing paved two new pathways to a career as a nurse educator in 2019: the Master of Science in Nursing degree and the Post-Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education.

Harvey has enrolled in the Master of Science in Nursing program, while Luksan is earning a Post-Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education. Both plan to bring their nursing experience to the classroom.

It is a timely commitment. A 2018-2019 survey of faculty positions conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing found 1,715 faculty vacancies at 872 nursing schools across the nation. This shortfall led to 75,029 qualified baccalaureate and graduate nursing student applicants being turned away in 2018 due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors and budget constraints. Of these, most survey respondents identified faculty shortage as the primary concern.

If this is a crisis, it’s also an opportunity.

Anne Schoening, PhD, RN, CNE, associate professor and assistant dean for faculty development, serves as the track lead for the MSN and Post-Graduate Certificate programs. Schoening says the Master of Science in Nursing is a flexible online program that may be pursued part time or full time and offers a specialization in nursing education that allows graduates to work in academic or clinical settings.

The Post-Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education, also online, is open to those who already hold an MSN and offers a specialization in nursing education. Both programs include a teaching practicum in which students work with an experienced nurse educator.

Harvey stepped on to the nursing educator track after serving as a clinical teaching partner in Creighton’s Dedicated Education Unit program, which matches students with experienced nurses, thereby granting students direct clinical experience in hospitals. The teaching aspect of that role reawakened her impulse to teach.

“The students would verbalize their gratitude for my explanation of the content,” Harvey says. “It was then that I realized that though I loved the nursing profession, I had a talent for teaching.”

Luksan, too, said the opportunity to pursue the Post-Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education answered an urge to teach.

“I have enjoyed all of my years being a nurse and a nurse practitioner, and I learned so much from those I work with and also from my patients,” she says. “But my love for teaching never went away.”

So last fall, when she received an email about Creighton’s new Post-Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education, it caught her attention.

Both Luksan and Harvey are pleased with their progress so far.

“My professor has been wonderful,” says Luksan. “She is very supportive, gives quick, helpful feedback, and is very knowledgeable and passionate about teaching and nursing. I honestly couldn’t be happier about being a student in this program.”

Harvey said she feels well supported.

“Anne Schoening was my senior capstone professor who guided me through my last semester in nursing school and now she is the advisor for this program,” Harvey says. “I know that Anne is there for me and will help me through this process. Everyone involved in the program is responsive to questions and a joy to work with.” 

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Learn more about Creighton’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Education track, Post-Grad Certificate in Nursing Education, and our Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) from Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) aimed at increasing the number of nursing faculty.