How were your grades in nursing school?
I know, most of us try to forget all those nursing school tests, but for the sake of our patients and our profession, let’s consider those tests again and how important equity in nursing education is to our ability to attract, train, and retain a diverse nursing workforce.
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “… it is essential to have a nursing workforce that will reflect the population of the United States so as to deliver cost-effective, quality care and improve patients’ satisfaction and health outcomes…”
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing adds, “…diversity in the nursing workforce provides opportunities to deliver quality care which promotes patient satisfaction and emotional well-being.”
But despite imperatives such as these, we still find a large gender discrepancy in nursing demographics. Statistics from the American Nursing Association show that just 11% of licensed nurses are male. Other sources put that number at just 9%, and research suggests that gender bias in nursing education could be playing a role.
According to a study published in Nursing Education Today, implicit gender discrimination in nursing education can affect how female and male students are graded on short-answer or essay exams (the types of tests with room for subjectivity in grading). In the study, the researchers looked at how students’ grades changed depending upon whether instructors were blinded or un-blinded to students’ gender. The instructors in the study graded the exams once and then two months later were asked to re-grade them after the identities of the students had been hidden.
The results showed that when instructors knew they were scoring a male student’s exam, he tended to score lower than when the instructors were blinded to his gender. The opposite was true among female students’ exam scores – their grades generally went up when instructors were aware of gender and down when they were not.
Granted, this was a small study including just eight nursing school instructors and 400 exams, but certainly the results are worth noting – especially by anyone involved in nursing education. Bias in our nursing education can result in negative feedback to male students, affecting nursing school retention rates and discouraging men from pursuing nursing careers.
Additional research in Nurse Education Today sheds more light on the situation. Called “Gender Differences in the academic and clinical performance of undergraduate nursing students: A systematic review,” the meta-analysis looked at 55 studies on gender bias in nursing education and found a few general trends including: negative experiences among male nursing students during their obstetric clinical placements, differences in learning styles among male and female nursing students perhaps affecting male success in nursing programs, and that many male nursing students do not feel supported in their nursing programs.
The good news?
Both men and women feel equally “called” to the profession of nursing, and really that’s the future of nursing.
Below, I talk with Lisa Shine, BSN, RN, a lab and simulations instructor at a nursing school in Virginia.
What is your background in nursing?
I got my bachelor of science in nursing from Marymount University in Virginia, and then started working in an urban DC emergency department.
How did you hear about your current position as a clinical instructor?
When I was in nursing school, I told my old lab director that I would be back someday. She told me if I had one year of nursing experience she would take me to run simulations and teach labs. After a year, I walked into her office and she gave me the job.
I teach the lab portion of a course in the fundamentals of nursing, which focuses on clinical skills and development, and I run nursing simulations for medical-surgical nursing, mother-child nursing, mental health nursing, and community health.
What is challenging about the role?
It depends. I hear ” I have kids” or “I work full time to support my family” a lot. It can be difficult to teach people who have a lot going on in their personal lives.
What is rewarding?
I love that I am able to teach our future nurses how to manage various kinds of diseases, acute and chronic. Watching the “ah-ha!” moments and recognizing the growth in my students is why I continue to do this in conjunction with a full-time night shift nursing gig in one of the craziest emergency departments in the city. It is my privilege to mentor and “raise up” the next generation of nurses. I try to build good relationships with my students. I currently have a stack of recommendations I need to write—I guess that means they like me!
Who would you recommend for this position?
I think this role would be good for anyone who wants to take a more active role in the development of the new nursing workforce, or who might eventually want to become a professor. It’s great experience. You definitely must have patience and a passion for knowledge. The baby nurses need a lot of support, so you kind of need to be nurturing and warm.
What are your future plans with your career?
Eventually, I plan to go back to school to get my master’s degree. With a master’s I will be able to teach the lecture portion of the undergraduate nursing classes. Right now, though, I enjoy teaching baby nurses clinical skills, like how to drop a good IV line and put a foley catheter in a mannequin.
Are you currently in school with the goal of earning a PhD or DNP degree? If the answer is yes, there’s a good chance you see yourself headed for a faculty position as a nurse educator in academia.
Until the very recent past, PhDs filled the majority of faculty positions. However, DNPs are now frequently entering academics to fill faculty positions, and the crossover of expectations and tasks are creating increasingly blurry lines between the roles of PhDs and DNPs. After all, in both roles, there are usually teaching, scholarship, and service expectations. With only a superficial view, it’s almost impossible to detect what the differences might be.
Because specific faculty roles are often determined by institutional leadership and policies, and are not consistent across the United States, you should consider yourself an investigative reporter and ask the right questions wherever your job search takes you. Knowing the right questions to ask before accepting a job offer is essential in order to avoid unpleasant surprises after being hired!
The following questions will help you get a better understanding of the faculty role you may be applying for.
1. What type of appointment will I be eligible for?
A tenure track appointment vs. a clinical track appointment has important implications for your workload and how you will be expected to structure your time. Tenure-track appointments usually have research expectations built into them (along with teaching), and are generally reserved for research-focused PhD faculty. However, these appointments are now available at some institutions for clinically-focused DNP faculty.
Clinical appointments usually carry a primary teaching responsibility, and are generally reserved for clinically-focused DNPs. But, frequently, PhD faculty may also find themselves in clinical track positions.
As if that is not confusing enough, an academic appointment may be either 9 months or 12 months, which has critical implications for ongoing finances and health insurance coverage. With a nine-month appointment, you may not be guaranteed a full workload (or full paycheck!) each summer. Definitely a critical point to know ahead of time.
2. Where do new faculty learn the educator role?
New faculty need guidance from more experienced faculty colleagues, and you should not be expected to go it alone. Without a background in teaching strategies, evaluation of learning outcomes, or the general culture of academia, the first year of teaching is full of unknowns and not easily tackled without an experienced guide. Being part of a teaching team that includes more experienced colleagues is ideal. Additionally, you should also have access to professional development opportunities as an educator through institutional resources and educator conferences.
3. When do faculty in my position assume active roles on committees at the department and university level?
While committees are an integral part of faculty life, too many committees can easily distract from other commitments. Setting up new courses, developing a scholarly trajectory, and adjusting to academia in general is time and energy intensive. Being pulled into intense service commitments can easily distract from those, and if possible, administrators may shield new faculty while they are adapting to their new role.
4. How will I be evaluated on the expectations related to teaching, scholarship, and service?
Since this may determine eligibility for merit increases or promotions, you’ll definitely want to ask this!
By clarifying the type of appointment you are eligible for, resources available to you, and the institution-specific expectations for evaluating your performance, you’ll be better prepared to face the exciting challenges and opportunities that await you in your new position.
Acknowledgement: Faculty colleagues Ms. Mercedes Martinez, Dr. Kathleen Cox, and Dr. Karim Singh.
Tanya Sudia, PhD, RN, Professor, Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, and Interim Graduate Program Director for the Louise Herrington School of Nursing at Baylor University received an award for the Best Oral Presentation at the Sixth Annual Pan-Pacific Nursing Conference and First Colloquium on Chronic Illness Care in Hong Kong. Her presentation, “Ethical Considerations Amid Emerging Global Health Challenges,” examined global ethical issues faced by healthcare providers. Global issues include standards of conduct for research, disparities in diagnosis and treatment of disease internationally, preparedness for pandemics, and gerontological care provisions. Sudia’s study had a particular focus on the spread and treatment of non-communicable diseases in areas where they were not previously prevalent, like low-middle income countries.
Sudia knows how important the development of creative and cost-effective strategies is with the global health care workforce facing many ongoing challenges. She also addresses key issues specific to the nursing profession including education and advanced training to ensure adequate nurse workforce capacity, rapid means of preparing for critical circumstances, workplace safety, and improving overall working conditions for nurses. Baylor University is proud of the international recognition in nursing and research that Dr. Sudia is bringing to their institution and school of nursing. Dr. Sudia brings distinguished knowledge in collaborative interdisciplinary research in health care to the staff and students of the Louise Herrington School of Nursing.
The Pan-Pacific Nursing Conference is hosted by the Nethersole School of Nursing at the Chinese University of Hong Kong which was first established in 1999. The conference aims to serve as a platform where health care professionals from around the globe can come together to share ideas and promote global health. The theme for this year’s conference was “Achieving transformational and sustainable development in health and social care.”
Dr. Sudia plans to continue her research on ethical challenges in the health care field, focusing on exploring global impact and culturally respectful health care approaches. Her work has been published in nursing journals as well as in contributing chapters to several books. She is also an advocate for expanding engagement and leadership of nursing professionals to address ethical challenges in the healthcare industry. As renowned front-line care providers, nurses need to be prepared and empowered leaders in preventive care and engaged interprofessional partners in identifying and resolving ethical issues.
Newly appointed inaugural Linda Koch Lorimer Professor of Nursing, Ann Kurth, is the dean of the Yale School of Nursing and an expert on global health. Kurth is a clinically trained epidemiologist whose research focuses on how to improve prevention, detection, and care of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Her work to promote reproductive health and strengthen global health systems through information and communication technologies has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNAIDS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the US Health and Resources Administration.
Kurth’s educational background comes from an undergraduate degree at Princeton, an MPH in population and family health from Columbia, a master’s in nursing with a specialization in midwifery from Yale, and a PhD in epidemiology from the University of Washington. Her academic career began as the Paulette Goddard Professor of Global Health Nursing at New York University (NYU). She also founded and served as executive director of NYUCN Global in the NYU College of Nursing, a research and implementation program for improving health and well-being for individuals, families, and communities nationally as well as globally. Kurth now serves as adjunct professor of nursing and public health at NYU, and adjunct professor and dean of the Yale School of Public Health and the Yale School of Nursing, respectively.
The Yale professor also has an impressive academic literary background with over 160 published peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and scholarly monographs. She is also a regular reviewer for public health, medical, and nursing journals. One of Kurth’s highest achievements was editing one of the first books published on women and HIV, “Until the Cure.” Kurth has also consulted for the NIH, the Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, and the CDC, as well as served as a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Academy of Science Committee on PEPFAR Evaluation where she led a Health System Strengthening workgroup.
Kurth has been honored on multiple occasions for her leadership and contributions to science. Most notably, she was awarded the International Nurse Research Hall of Fame award from Sigma Theta Tau International, a global nursing honor society. She is vice chair for the Consortium of Universities in Global Health, and a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and the New York Academy of Medicine. Currently, Kurth is a member of the 2014-2018 US Preventive Services Task Force, a program to set screening guidelines for primary care in the US.
Yale created the Linda Koch Lorimer Professorship to honor a distinguished faculty member in any field, “who is an exemplary citizen of the university, and who embodies the attributes and character demonstrated by Linda Koch Lorimer, including her commitment to a legacy of women at Yale.” Lorimer served Yale for over 30 years as a vice president and secretary, overseeing numerous transformative initiatives, including the creation of the Office of International Affairs, the Office of New Haven and State Affairs, and the Office of Digital Dissemination and Online Education.
Congratulations to Ann Kurth, our Nurse of the Week.
Kathryn H. Bowles, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI, has been appointed as a new member to the National Advisory Council for Nursing Research (NACNR). Bowles is the van Ameringen Professor in Nursing Excellence and Professor of Nursing in the Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing). The NACNR chooses members of the council from the scientific and lay communities who embody diverse perspectives in the field of nursing, public and health policy, law, and economics.
NACNR is the National Institute of Nursing Research’s (NINR) principal advisory board, which meets three times a year on the National Institutes of Health campus to make recommendations and provide support on the direction of research that forms the evidence base for nursing practice. The council conducts second level reviews of grant applications that have been scored by scientific review groups, and reviews the institute’s extramural programs to make recommendations about its intramural research activities.
Bowles brings over 20 years of experience conducting and evaluating multidisciplinary research to the table. She looks forward to supporting cutting edge research and NINR priorities to advance the health and treatment of patients and their caregivers. Her personal research examines decision-making supported by information technology to improve older adult care. Most recently her studies included a focus on development of decision support to determine best site of care for patients in need of post-acute care. Her other areas of research include telehealth technology, home care, and evaluation of electronic health records. Bowles was also a co-founder of RightCare Solutions, a software company based on NINR funded research to provide an end to end solution for discharge planning and post-acute care referrals.