Letter to the Editor by Gaul, R., Higbee, M., Taylor, N., Ensign, A., Monson, N., & Price, J. to “Nursing Education: Philosophical Perspectives on Current Challenges” and “Crisis in Competency: A Defining Moment in Nursing Education”

Response by Gaul, R., Higbee, M., Taylor, N., Ensign, A., Monson, N., & Price, J. to “Nursing Education: Philosophical Perspectives on Current Challenges” and “Crisis in Competency: A Defining Moment in Nursing Education” by Joan M. Kavanagh, PhD, MSN, RN, NEA-BC; Patricia A. Sharpnack, DNP, RN, CNE, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAAN (January 31, 2021)

Dear Editor,

A critical element of preparing competent nursing students, not mentioned in "Crisis in Competency: A Defining Moment in Nursing Education" by Kavanagh and Sharpnack (2021), is the need to eliminate barriers to recruiting and retaining nurse educators still engaging in clinical practice. The current nursing educational model is obsolete and perpetuates the theory-practice gap (Kavanaugh & Sharpnack, 2021). Many academic institutions continue to place a heavy emphasis on the publication of empirical research in peer-reviewed journals for retention, tenure, and promotion (RTP) (Roberts & Glod, 2013). Often, faculty reluctantly give up their clinical practice to meet these demands of academia. Nurses working in clinical practice often have interest in making contributions to nursing education, but find difficulty in managing academic expectations on top of clinical responsibilities without working overtime. These nurses often work as adjunct instructors, limiting their voice in institutional governance (Honig, Smolowitz, & Larson, 2013). Advance Practice Nurses (APRN) are required to practice clinically to maintain licensure for accreditation of APRN programs and individual certification. Concerns that changing RTP criteria may decrease academic standards is not congruent with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) definition of rigorous scholarship as "activities that systematically advance the teaching, research, and practice of nursing through rigorous inquiry that is significant to the profession, is creative, is documented, can be replicated or elaborated, and peer-reviewed through various methods." (AACN, 2019, p. 373). Clinical practice, in and of itself, cannot be considered scholarship. However, many of the activities of clinical practice involve the scholarship of discovery, teaching, integration, and application (Boyer, 1996), as well as generate valuable empirical, aesthetic, ethical, personal, and emancipatory knowledge (Chinn & Kramer, 2013). Joint clinical academic appointments are ideal for promoting collaboration between research and clinically focused scholars, the majority of nursing faculty practice independently. Additional compensation from the health care organizations is often available. However, their academic institution, students, and the community also benefit from the enriched education and scholarship opportunities when nursing faculty practice clinically.

The paradigm shift needed in nursing education will only happen if nursing leaders advocate for changes in RTP and workload expectations to support the needs of a practicing profession. Paskiewicz's (2003) model explores the value of clinical practice in nursing education. Hilton, Fisher, Lopez, & Sanders (1997) developed a customizable system to quantify the value of a unit of time, spent teaching or engaging in clinical practice, that equally recognizes faculty productivity in educational, administrative, and clinical roles. This type of system could be used to define department-specific workload policies for nursing faculty. A precedent was set by the innovative model widely implemented to address critical staffing shortages, where registered nurses (RN's) were contracted to work two twelve-hour shifts on the weekend, and it was considered full-time. Recognizing and supporting the unique expertise and needs of nursing faculty creates a rich, collaborative scholarly environment, which is vital to advancing nursing education, health outcomes, and the nursing profession (Limoges, Acorn, & Osborne, 2016).


Raiden Gaul, MSN, RNC, Raiden.Gaul@uvu.edu
Mykin Higbee PhD, RN, Mykin.Higbee@uvu.edu
Noelle Taylor, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, Noelle.Taylor@uvu.edu
Allison Ensign, DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Natalie Monson, MSN, RN, Natalie.Monson@uvu.edu
Jared Price, DNP, APRN, FNP-C


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