In the middle of a national nursing shortage is an even worse shortage among faculty.
“While the nursing profession is a clinical one, we need clinical faculty and preceptors with the formal competencies of building clinical skill acquisition among RN [registered nurse] and APRN [advanced practice registered nurse] students,” says Leanne Fowler, DNP, MBA, APRN, AGACNP-BC, CNE, Program Director of Nurse Practitioner Programs, Program Coordinator of the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Concentration and Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing.
Several years ago, Dr. Fowler chaired a task force that Dean Demetrius Porche, DNS, PhD, ANEF, FACHE, FAANP, FAAN, charged with proposing a business case for a Preceptor Academy. Clinical preceptors focus on teaching students or newly graduated nurses in the clinical environment, working directly with patients.
The work completed by this task force was updated and used as the foundation to develop a grant proposal for “Educating a Transitioning Nursing Workforce for Health Equity in Rural and Underserved Areas: Building a Clinical Nurse Educator Academy for Region 6.” Recently, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the School of Nursing nearly $3 million for this project, with Dr. Fowler at the helm.
“The primary focus of the grant is a regionwide Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE) Academy to develop clinical faculty and to develop clinical preceptors for RN and APRN nursing programs,” Dr. Fowler says. “The educational program will develop new CNEs with a competency-based program from the National League for Nursing’s (NLN) published clinical educator competencies. Additionally, the education will include teaching strategies for diverse learners and for diverse populations within rural and medically underserved areas (MUAs). This includes things like culturally and linguistically appropriate services, population health and health equity standards, and inclusive excellence principles for diverse learners in higher education.”
Building the Academy
The Academy will serve nurses in rural areas and MUAs within Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana. These states make up the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Region 6.
Academy faculty will initially include Dr. Fowler; Kendra Barrier, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing; Benita Chatmon, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, Assistant Dean for Clinical Nursing Education and Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing; Nicole Thomas, DNP, RN, CCM, Program Director for the Traditional BSN Program and Instructor of Clinical Nursing; C. Shannon Pfingstag, DNP, CNM, Instructor of Clinical Nursing and Director of the Nurse-Midwifery Concentration; and Clair Millet, DNP, APRN, PHCNS-BC, Director of Nursing Continuing Professional Development & Entrepreneurial Enterprise, Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing and Robert Wood Johnson Public Health Nurse Leader. Over time, faculty will expand to include others from across the region.
“Additionally, the education will include teaching strategies for diverse learners and for diverse populations within rural and medically underserved areas (MUAs). This includes things like culturally and linguistically appropriate services, population health and health equity standards, and inclusive excellence principles for diverse learners in higher education.”
Leanne Fowler, DNP, MBA, APRN, AGACNP-BC, CNE
Academy faculty will complete 40 hours of professional development, including coaching skills for excellence, Academic Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE®cl) competencies, diversity/equity/inclusion in nursing education, TeamSTEPPS® (an evidence-based teamwork system), the Office of Minority Health’s Think Cultural Health program, Exploring Anti-Racism in Health Professions Education, and other training and education programs focused on health literacy, mental resilience and well-being.
Dr. Fowler and her project team will work with new and existing partners in MUAs to recruit CNE Academy participants. The School of Nursing has partnered with national and state professional nursing organizations to facilitate networking with nursing schools and clinical agencies across the region to expand its potential partner pool. The Academy will serve as the central agency to connect these networks with the focused effort to increase CNEs who will support nursing students and nurses transitioning into the nursing workforce.
“Participants will commit to the Academy’s requirements and will be listed with academic programs and clinical partners to recruit new students and a new nursing workforce. We will support rural and MUA clinical agencies with a coordinator that helps them support the learners on-site,” she says.
All Academy participants’ expenses will be supported with grant funding. Participants will also be supported with a coordinator to monitor and facilitate their progression in the program. Retention stipends will be awarded to CNE participants to continue educating students and new nurses in rural areas and MUAs.
Cultivating a New Generation of Clinical Nurse Educators
CNE participants will complete about 10 hours of core CNE education and then about three hours of role-specific education. The national competencies for CNE®cl, published by the NLN, will be used as the educational standards from which Academy courses and evaluations are developed.
“National standards for culturally and linguistically appropriate services, health literacy, inclusive learning environments and coaching will also be threaded into the CNE Academy curriculum,” Dr. Fowler says. “Role-specific modules will be designed using national competencies for the RN, nurse practitioner and nurse-midwife roles. We hope to expand this to clinical nurse specialists and nurse anesthesia in the future.”
Competency achievement will be assessed through innovative, interactive simulation scenarios during virtual or live learning experiences. Upon their completion of the Academy, participants will be able to serve as CNEs and will be prepared to seek national certification as CNEs from the NLN.
Over the next six months, Dr. Fowler and her team will focus on completing Academy faculty and curriculum development and establishing a website that will serve as a resource and landing page for program enrollment. Over the next two to four years, Dr. Fowler and Academy faculty seek to develop a model for states and the federal government to use and support with fiscal accountability.
“As we see state and federal funding for clinical medical education, we should see this for clinical nursing education as well,” Dr. Fowler says, emphasizing that CNEs play an important part in increasing the number of RNs and APRNs in underserved areas. “Enabling CNEs to support the transition of students or new graduates into practice improves their satisfaction, confidence and retention in those practice settings.”