Retention of Nursing Faculty: Associate Degree Administrators' Perspectives
University of Kansas
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Retention of faculty is a complex and dynamic challenge for nursing education. Nursing is facing the growing dilemma of a shrinking population of current nursing faculty (AACN, 2012; Banks, 2012; Evans, 2013, & Proto & Dzurec, 2009). The lack of educators has implications for nursing research and the clinical nursing shortage. Research to better understand current challenges to retaining faculty and current successful faculty retention strategies is imperative for the academic environment in an effort to address the current nursing faculty shortage. There is limited study of Associate Degree faculty populations, yet they are responsible for a large percentage of graduates in Kansas and beyond. In the United States, 45.4 percent of registered nurses' initial education is at the associate degree level (HRSA, 2010). Nursing schools are concerned about retention of current faculty and may have various strategies in place to promote retention. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to examine experiences and perceptions of academic leaders regarding the challenges and successes of current nursing faculty retention strategies at the associate level. A qualitative design was employed to discover the challenges and successes of current retention strategies being used by faculty leaders at the associate degree level. To better understand the academic leaders' perspectives, an open-ended survey was developed based on literature findings that address the challenges of faculty retention. Using purposive sampling, members present at a meeting of the Kansas Council of Associate Degree Nurse Educators (KCADNE) were surveyed. After survey completion, two focus groups were completed with consenting participants. The focus groups followed a semi-structured format and were audio-taped with verbatim transcription performed after completion. On the basis of findings from the surveys and focus groups, codes, categories, and themes were created. The four themes identified from the focus group data analysis were: 1) Addressing salary as a "huge" factor in retaining faculty; 2) Improving the work environment; 3) Characterizing vacant faculty positions and 4) Identifying strategies to support new faculty. The written survey responses were found to be reflective of the four identified focus group themes. Confirmation of themes was attained from sample participants. Prior research supports these themes as well. Identified themes provide valuable learning related to current nursing faculty retention strategies. Sample implications include: researching nursing faculty salaries and workload; identifying strategies to support positive work environments; considering the value of flexible schedules; and optimizing new faculty mentoring. In an area with limited research, qualitative design provides an appropriate starting point. This study may ultimately provide approaches to help improve faculty retention thereby helping to decrease the nursing faculty shortage. Further research is also needed with faculty and academic leaders at the baccalaureate and graduate levels.
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