Nursing News: Higher Workload, Lower Salaries Discourage Nurse Educators from Teaching

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, October 11th, 2012

Several factors contribute to the scarcity of nurse educators. Unlike typical doctoral-prepared college professors who begin their academic career in their 30s, the average PhD nurse educator doesn’t begin teaching until she or he is almost 50. They also retire earlier, leaving too few teachers to educate the country’s new nurses.

These short academic careers are causing serious problems for our health care system.

Less than 1 percent of nurses have doctorates, due to school debt, longer hours and low salaries. Competition for nurses with graduate degrees also lures nursing educators out of academia and into more lucrative private and clinical sectors that pay significantly higher salaries.

Lower salaries aren’t the only reason nursing educators are in short supply. Academic roles can frequently result in 60 to 80-hour work weeks. Like non-nursing faculty on the tenure track, nursing faculty are expected to carry out teaching assignments, advise students, engage in scholarship and provide service to their school, profession and community. Nursing faculty must also remain current in their clinical practice. It is difficult for nursing faculty to balance academic roles while increasing expertise and maintaining clinical practice.

Interestingly, faculty salaries for other professional programs such as engineering, business management and computer science, are far more competitive. Do decision-makers value other professional academic programs more highly than nursing programs?

How can we recruit more nurses into PhD programs? And how can we get more instructors? Stay tuned for my next blog!

And to learn more ways to recruit nurses into all fields of nursing, email me today at

As a nurse speaker, I specialize in nurse recruitment, nurse retention, and work life balance and can help improve morale, retention and recruitment. CONTACT ME TODAY to talk about my powerful keynotes, workshops and programs. I look forward to helping your organization achieve its goals.

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