A bold initiative to grow the College’s most valuable asset: its educators

Dean Linda Weglicki
March 08, 2019
Learning in the SIM lab

It’s hard to believe, but America is bracing for yet another shortage of nurses. In fact, South Carolina is on track to have the fourth worst shortage of nurses in the U.S. by 2030, according to a report published in October 2018 by RegisteredNursing.org.   

Why, then, are American nursing programs turning away 64,000 000 qualified baccalaureate and graduate applicants each year? Because there simply aren’t enough nurse educators to accept them all.

A report published in 2016 by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported more than 1,500 faculty vacancies at nursing schools nationwide. These faculty shortages are limiting student enrollment at a time when the need for baccalaureate and doctorally prepared nurses continues to grow. Adding to the predicament: budget constraints, an aging faculty, and competition from clinical training sites.

In our view, denying admission to gifted, passionate, and qualified applicants is an unacceptable loss of potential nursing talent, especially at a time when this talent is critically needed. This is why the MUSC College of Nursing has launched a new fundraising initiative to recruit, retain, nurture and grow more nursing educators.

The goal of the College’s Faculty Excellence Project is to strategically implement steps that help build a pipeline of nationally well-respected faculty within the discipline and in health care, while highlighting the rich tradition and excellent reputation that is MUSC.

The idea is to provide our faculty with the opportunities and support needed to become even more knowledgeable in an area of nursing that they are passionate about. By providing them with a pathway for continued growth and professional advancement, we aim to keep them engaged, interested and upwardly mobile, while increasing our institutional depth of expertise in fields such as palliative care, telehealth and population-based interventions. Additionally, this fund supports recruiting and retaining our outstanding nursing faculty, who are known to be innovative educators, cutting-edge researchers, and skilled and compassionate nurses.

While we feel it is essential to empower all of our faculty with the resources and opportunities needed to achieve continual growth as nurse leaders and “agents of change” in the nursing profession, the following examples provide highlights of two of our faculty who, through focused support, have begun to build and communicate their stories as they travel their professional development.

Carrie Cormack, DNP, APRN, CPNP-BC, assistant professor and graduate of the MUSC College of Nursing, has become the lead pediatric faculty in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. Dr. Cormack specializes in the care of children with complex chronic conditions and, in addition to her faculty work, is a pediatric nurse practitioner with Hands of Hope, a pediatric palliative and hospice care organization.

Palliative care is an area of passion for Dr. Cormack, and she long recognized the need to educate nursing students in this critical area. However, she lacked some of the advanced training and resources to integrate this specialized area within the undergraduate curriculum.

Recognizing this, the College stepped in with additional resources and opportunities, providing Dr. Cormack with additional training in the area of palliative care education.  As a result, the College has been able to integrate an End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) curriculum into its undergraduate programs, positioning MUSC CON graduates to be prepared to meet the palliative health care needs of the state and beyond. Additionally, Dr. Cormack has participated on the national working group developing ELNEC-approved core competencies for graduate programs, putting the College in a much stronger position to integrate training in across graduate programs in the near future.

“I feel extremely supported by my alma mater and have a deep respect for how we place patients and families as a priority. In terms of meeting the need for palliative care nursing education, MUSC’s investment in me as a faculty member has made all of the difference,” said Dr. Cormack.

The Faculty Excellence Project also is helping nurture and grow its nursing faculty by supporting their research interests and sparking creative pathways that they would not otherwise be able to undertake due to a lack of resources. Through this funding, the CON will be able to promote and enhance faculty scholarly and leadership development, thereby elevating the academic impact and reputation as a leader.

Teresa "Tese" Stephens Ph.D., RN, CNE. Dr. Stephens, an associate professor in the College, has spent the better part of a decade examining the importance of resilience in individuals who work in a health care environment so that they can better cope and adapt to stressful work environments. 

 “I wanted to try to determine characteristics of resilience that health care providers might have in common,” said Dr. Stephens. “Based upon my work in 2013, I developed a resilience model and, ever since, I’ve been testing the model to see how it applies to different groups and situations.”

Holocaust survivors became a natural focal point for Dr. Stephens’ research because she wanted to learn more about resilience and its role in understanding social justice. While living in Tennessee, she worked closely with the Tennessee Holocaust Commission where she became acquainted and developed a kinship with Timothy Boyce, author of "From Day to Day," which offers insight into the diary of Norwegian architect, humanitarian, and political prisoner, Odd Nansen, who was held captive in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

To support Dr. Stephens’ collaboration with Mr. Boyce, the College was able to support, through what was the beginning of Faculty Excellence Project, Mr. Boyce’s visit and reception at MUSC, where he presented a compelling presentation, entitled, “Day by Day Resilience: What Holocaust Narratives Teach Us about Changing What’s Possible in Research, Education, and Collaboration."

Dr. Stephens notes the importance of health care providers in their development of personal resiliency in order to cope with the stress and chaotic nature of health care.  She further adds that, while personal resilience is highly important, it is just as important for health care organizations to dedicate time toward understanding and building resilient teams and cultures.

We need your support

The College’s efforts to recruit, retain and grow its gifted educators depends on the financial support of alumni and friends like you. When asked how alumni can make a difference for their alma mater, Dr. Cormack replied, “With dwindling state assistance and a shortage of nursing faculty to help educate future nurses, alumni giving to the Faculty Excellence Project is now is crucial. If you can, please act now.”

Learn more about the Faculty Excellence Project and how you, as an alumnus can support and contribute to this important initiative.


About the Author

Dean Linda Weglicki

Keywords: Spring 2019