The Nurse Educator in Aotearoa New Zealand
In Aotearoa New Zealand and globally, nurses are not choosing careers as nurse educators. One of the biggest challenges is the recruitment and retention of sufficient numbers of qualified nurse faculty that matches the Aotearoa New Zealand population. There is no formal data on the workforce situation for the nurse educator, and no plan as to how the need for more nurse educators will be addressed in response to the predicted nursing shortage. This shortage of nurse educators has a direct impact on the global nursing workforce shortage. There is a need to develop a sound understanding of the work of nurse educators, to which this research seeks to contribute. This research aims to provide some approaches for enhancing the experiences of nurse educators today and in the future.
This research begins with my own practice and over 25 years of experience in nursing education, which lead me to problematise the competing demands and power relationships in the social world of nursing education. Changing health care and nursing workforce demands have resulted in a complex nurse educator role. Critical readings of the literature identify the nurse educator role as someone who is expected to be an expert practitioner, a skilled educator, and involved in research knowledge generation or translation. For the nurse educator, there is a disjuncture as nurse working between the worlds of nursing and education.
Methodology draws on two writing modes as a deliberate strategy to traverse the complexity in nursing education work. Being flexible with some of the conventions of traditional scientific qualitative research presents an opportunity to theorise nursing education in a different manner and from a women’s standpoint. The research design includes academic writing supported by reliable evidence in the form of a literature review and use of the literature to critique. The research also uses the power of the narrative writing genre to capture the complexities of the research question in context, and to bring it ‘up close and personal’ for the reader. This approach includes fictionalised narratives, based on the experiences of colleagues as interview participants, documenting the complexity of the social world of nursing education.
The literature and research narratives illustrate the complexity of the everyday work of the nurse educator. It is important to consider about how we ‘think’ about nursing, how we teach students to think and how we develop nursing education knowledge and academic reasoning. The nurse educator’s practice should be positioned firmly on the middle ground between nursing and education. Identity formation is crucial for the nurse educator in claiming their space. A collective voice will provide a shared focus for developing opportunities for both nurses and nurse educators as leaders in their practice. Mentorship and organisational culture needs to support social networks that build resilience and address inequalities in nursing education.
Valuing what nursing education has to offer as academic scholarship will enhance nursing education practice and provide the recognition needed to forge a positive career pathway. A legitimate career pathway is needed to promote academic scholarship. Authentic role models and leaders who represent the gender and cultural diversity in our society are needed. Building the workforce of indigenous nurse educators must be a priority for Aotearoa New Zealand.