The School of Nursing at Thomas Edison State College has become a national leader in the recruitment and preparation of minority nurse educators in online pedagogy.
In 2005, the School was awarded a $600,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to recruit and prepare minority nurse educators in online education and develop a collaborative network of diverse nurse faculty members to enhance nursing programs nationwide.
The School’s online Minority Nurse Educator certification program includes a 20-week Certificate in Distance Education Program (CDEP) at Thomas Edison State College and a 12-week mentored online nursing experience at the college under the guidance of an experienced online nurse educator.
Dr. Susan M. O’Brien, dean of the School of Nursing, said the potential impact of the grant is multifold.
“It will enable more nursing students to have access to minority nurse faculty, especially in remote areas of the country, and help reduce the nurse educator shortage by enabling nurse faculty to extend their tenure in the profession, at least on a part-time basis, after they reach retirement age,” she said.
The grant initially called for the college to recruit 45 minority nurse educators during a three-year period and teach them online pedagogical skills. The school recruited and prepared a total of 52 nurse educators in its first three years.
In 2008, HRSA awarded a second grant to the School of Nursing to expand the minority nurse educator program.
As part of the program, the School has developed the country’s first online database of minority nurse educators who have been certified in online teaching and established an annual lectureship focusing on the importance of diversity in nursing.
The database - the final requirement of initial 2005 grant - is available free to nursing schools across the country interested in increasing diversity at their institutions and hiring the educators as adjunct faculty. Each year, the school adds new educators to the database as they complete the program.
“Many nursing schools throughout the country have worked successfully to increase the diversity of their student populations, but there remains a shortage of minority nursing faculty to serve as role models for students,” said O’Brien. “We hope nursing school deans and other administrators find this new database useful in increasing diversity at their institutions and, ultimately, enabling more students to benefit from more culturally diverse educators, which enhances their overall education and improves the care they provide to society.”
According to a 2005 study by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), minority representation among nursing faculty in the United States is at approximately 9 percent. Compounding the national nursing shortage crisis is a national shortage of nurse educators. This shortage is the leading reason that thousands of qualified candidates are turned away from nursing schools every year.
The grants were awarded by HRSA’s Nurse Education Practice and Retention Program, Division of Nursing, Bureau of Health Professions. Eligible nurse educators interested in the program may contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The database is accessible at www.tesc.edu/nursingdiversity.