A new Oregon Health & Science University program will help fill a key gap in nursing workforce development efforts: Preparing educators who set up new and future nurses for long-lasting success in health care and nursing leadership.
Supported by a nearly $4 milion grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, the newly formed Oregon Nursing Education Academy aims to boost the number of clinical nursing faculty and preceptors — experienced nurses who mentor recently graduated nurses and nursing students in hospitals, clinics and other patient care settings. All nurses who enroll in the academy will receive scholarships that cover all or most of the program’s tuition.
“As we work to increase the number of working nurses to meet growing patient care needs, we also need to increase the number of nurse educators who help new and future nurses excel as nursing professionals,” said Joanne Noone, Ph.D., RN, ANEF, FAAN, a professor in the OHSU School of Nursing. “The Oregon Nursing Education Academy directly responds to the mounting nurse shortage by encouraging more seasoned nurses to teach, mentor and support their less-experienced counterparts.”
Noone is leading the effort in collaboration with Tiffany Allen, M.N., RN, PCCN-K, who is serving as the academy’s project manager, in addition to being an OHSU School of Nursing instructor.
While there’s a shortage of nursing school faculty nationwide, the problem is particularly acute in the western United States, which the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports has the nation’s highest nursing faculty vacancy rates. In 2020, 14.8% of Oregon’s nursing school faculty positions went unfilled.
Through the academy, OHSU aims to train a total of 63 faculty and 92 preceptors from Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Alaska by the fall of 2026.
To better prepare future nurse educators to address inequities in health care, the academy’s classes will include discussions about social determinants of health, which cause underserved communities to disproportionately experience some health conditions in comparison to other communities.
The influx of nurse educators who are prepared through the academy is expected to bolster health care throughout Oregon, as well as OHSU’s efforts to increase both the number and diversity of graduates from key OHSU health professional educational programs.
“Building education capacity is a key element to meeting the expected demand for new nurses, as well as OHSU’s commitment to increasing the number of its graduates by 2030,” said Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, vice president for nursing affairs and dean of the OHSU School of Nursing. “This important program will prepare clinical nurses with the knowledge and skills needed to educate students and mentor new graduates, adding vital nurse faculty and preceptors.”
To enroll in the academy, nurses must already have a bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing. Enrollees will learn through online classes taught by OHSU faculty. Those in the academy’s faculty pathway will learn through the OHSU School of Nursing Master’s in Nursing Education Program, which typically takes up to two years to complete. The preceptor pathway will expand learning beyond OHSU’s pre-existing preceptor training program by having enrollees complete two additional graduate courses, with one focusing on social determinants of health and the other on clinical nursing.
Most of the academy’s participant slots will be reserved for nurses who currently work for any of these five clinical partners, where nurse preceptors facilitate clinical rotations for OHSU nursing students: Salem Health Hospital & Clinics, La Grande-based Grande Ronde Hospital & Clinics, Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls, Asante in Southern Oregon, and OHSU Hospital in Portland.
The first group of nurses enrolled in the Oregon Nursing Education Academy’s faculty pathway will begin taking classes in January 2023; applications for that pathway are being accepted through the end of November 2022. Classes for the academy’s first preceptor cohort will begin in March 2023, with applications being due in early 2023.
Those interested in applying should send an email to email@example.com.