December 15, 2003

Loan program aimed to increase nursing faculty

By Tia Webster

The United States' critical nursing shortage has spurred administrators and faculty into creative efforts to draw prospective students into nursing. And as nursing student numbers increase, there has been a push by administrators and the federal government to help boost number of qualified nursing faculty.

With help from a $194,000 award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing will provide students with tuition assistance in exchange for serving four years as nursing faculty at an academic institution after graduation.

The Nursing Faculty Loan Program is being implemented by the Health Resources and Services Administration of DHHS. Students enrolled full time in an advanced degree nursing program at eligible schools can qualify for up to 85 percent of the loan being cancelled after their four-year agreement as a faculty member has been fulfilled.

"The severe faculty shortage has impeded the ability to accept all qualified applicants into nursing programs across the country," said Sandi Dunbar, professor of adult and elder health.

Dunbar is working with Professor Roberta Kaplow to coordinate the program. Emory's nursing school currently has 53 combined part and full-time faculty.

This past summer, the school coordinated another effort in response to the pressing need for nursing educators. Ten students completed the Emory Summer Nursing Teaching Institute, an innovative post-master's certificate program.

The fast-track course offered the master's-prepared clinicians an efficient program to become skilled educators. The teaching practicum built on the clinical knowledge of nurses and ensured that participants learned the techniques to deliver educational materials skillfully and effectively.

Participants in the program had the option to complete all or part of it. Upon completion of the entire sequence, they earned 12 graduate-level academic credits (nine semester hours in the summer and three semester hours in the fall).

During the summer session, classes were held in workshop format, followed by online activities and assignments. The program participants concluded with a preceptorship at their employing agency or institution from September to December. During their preceptorships, participants engaged in both classroom and clinical instruction under the direction of a faculty preceptor, who provided guidance, critique and support.

For more information about the Nursing Faculty Loan Program, contact Chrystal Jefferson at 404-727-7953.