Calling all nursing PhDs...You're needed in the classroom

Dec 11, 2017

The job market is opening up for nurses again. The difficulty is expanding nursing programs to meet that need, at a time when there is a shortage of the teachers with doctorates essential to the programs.

In recent years, the job market for nurses was not very good. Some programs closed and others shrank. That also meant fewer nurses went on for their doctorates, with the intention of teaching in nursing schools.

With the intention to teach, however, the number of nurses in grad programs is starting to rise. University at Buffalo Nursing Dean Marsha Lewis says her program is doing distance learning for Ph.D. candidates who cannot uproot themselves to here for up to six years.

"Stop working. Pull up stakes. Move to Buffalo for 3, 4, 5, 6 years to get their degree," she says. "So our Ph.D. program is a distance program and much of it is a synchronous program, so students can join us through something called Zoom, where they can be in the classroom but they're still living where they are."

Lewis says staff and budget limits mean UB cannot expand its program beyond the current 450 nursing students.

"Baccalaureate prepared and advance practice nurses. So we would be very happy to be able to accommodate more students," Lewis says. "We do have many more undergraduate students who apply to our program who are qualified, but we cannot admit because we don't have both the faculty or necessarily the clinical sites available for them."

Lewis says there appear to be more people going into the relatively new doctorates in clinical practice. Those with that training can go into private practice or teach in nursing programs.

The dean says she expects to see more transfers in of nursing students from two-year schools, as long as they meet the academic requirements.