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Rounds with Leadership: Sustaining the Nurse Faculty Population

Published April 28, 2021

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

April 28, 2021 - Sustaining the Nurse Faculty Population

As part of our work to survey the landscape of member school needs, one concern persists as a top priority: Sustaining a robust supply of nurse faculty to prepare entry- and advanced-level nurses. Finding faculty with the right mix of education, experience, and expertise continues to be a challenge for nursing schools nationwide. In fact, we know from data collected through AACN’s annual surveys that roughly one-third of the total faculty population is expected to retire by 2025. This crisis is real and demands a swift, collaborative response.

Fortunately, the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP) has released its 17th annual report to Congress titled Preparing Nurse Faculty and Addressing the Shortage of Nurse Faculty and Clinical Preceptors to provide some recommendations for a federal response to address this issue. NACNEP’s members, which include nursing deans and faculty, practice leaders, organizational representatives, and federal staff, are calling on a public-private response to develop, support, and fund a wide range of initiatives to address the shortage of nurse faculty and enhance nursing education and training.

AACN was instrumental in providing the data that frame the issues in this report, which features an overview of the faculty shortage, a summary of federal and philanthropic efforts to address this issue, details on state board requirements for faculty and preceptor preparation, and continuing challenges. The report concludes that “the gap between the supply and demand for nurse faculty to educate new generations of nurses will continue, and likely widen. Bold, creative, collaborative, and targeted approaches are needed now” (p. 24).

The NACNEP report calls on Congress to focus on three priorities to fully address this perennial concern, including:

  1. Provide funding to programs that increase the number of nurse faculty and clinical preceptors and support nurse faculty development.
  2. Provide funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration to develop a nurse faculty residency program that emphasizes strategies to improve faculty recruitment, preparation, development, and retention.
  3. Create a national center devoted to nursing education and the development of nurse faculty and clinical preceptors, which will identify best practices for preparing faculty, establish a repository of information on the faculty population, pilot innovative projects to support the recruitment and retention diverse nurse educators, and raise the visibility of the nurse faculty role as a rewarding career choice, among other actions.

AACN will continue to lobby Congress to implement these federal recommendations as we work to address the faculty shortage in our advocacy, communication, data collection, and member education work. To further generate momentum for change, academic nurse leaders must also take steps to ensure that our efforts to sustain a healthy nursing workforce continues into the foreseeable future.  We are uniquely poised to serve as role models and mentors to students who will someday serve as education, research, and practice leaders. AACN is proud to join with our members in serving as a champion for the nurse faculty role and attracting a new generation of educators who combine their clinical expertise with a passion for teaching.

Additional Resources

Research:  Retirements and Succession of Nursing Faculty in 2016-2025
Fact Sheet:
  Nurse Faculty Shortage
Advocating for the Future Advancement of Academic Nursing Act (FAAN Act)
Vacant Faculty Positions for Academic Year 2020-2021
Position Statement:
Preferred Vision of the Professoriate in Baccalaureate & Graduate Nursing Programs

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