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Preparing Versatile Educators

Vol. 7 •Issue 14 • Page 16
Preparing Versatile Educators

An MSN in education program prepares multidisciplined nursing faculty

Wanted: Technologically savvy nurse educators to teach eager nursing students; must have knowledge of curriculum development, research, Web online courses, the ability to address diverse students and test construction skills. Grant writing and community health development skills a plus.

Innovations in MSN programs are needed to attract nurses back to the classroom to become educators with skills like those in the ad above. Research indicates the faculty shortage is a major contributor to the overall nursing shortage. In 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported 32,797 qualified applicants to baccalaureate, master's and doctoral programs were rejected with 47.8 percent of the institutions citing lack of faculty as the reason.1

Since 2002, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) School of Nursing MSN-Nursing Education, with campuses in Newark and Stratford, and Ramapo College of New Jersey (Mahwah) Master of Science in Educational Technology (MSET) have collaborated to develop a program to increase the number of master's-prepared nurse educators. With only five students the first year, the program now has 56 students enrolled. Graduates have increased from four in 2004 to 10 in 2006.

SPICES Methodology Advocated

The partnership between UMDNJ and the Ramapo College of New Jersey is uncommon. Traditionally, educators have been reluctant to collaborate across disciplines. However, such cooperation is recommended. The AACN position statement on interdisciplinary education and practice states a culture of collaboration must be established between faculty from schools of medicine, nursing, social work, public health and other disciplines to assume creation of the learning environment.2 When the groups work together a positive learning environment occurs.

One such methodology, SPICES, helps to foster a collaborative environment. Created by Ronald Harden, MD, SPICES stands for Student-centered, Problem-based, Integrated, Community-based, Electives and Systematic recording of the learning experiences.3-5

The SPICES model supported UMDNJ and Ramapo in the development of their multidisciplinary curricula:

  • Student-centered learning encourages student involvement in the curriculum and emphasizes what they learn.

  • Problem-based learning involves the student acquiring knowledge and skills as they tackle the problems that arise out of their newly acquired knowledge.

  • Integration allows different subject matter to be brought together allowing students to see the problems and solutions with greater clarity and teaching should be centered on bringing this knowledge to the community at large.

  • Elective courses should be offered allowing students to pursue areas of interest to them.

  • The systematic recording of course work for future reference should be placed in a multimedia portfolio.

    The Program

    One major aspect of the UMDNJ and Ramapo collaborative is the incorporation of technology into the courses. Nurse educators are aware computer use in nursing and patient education has increased as the World Wide Web has expanded, with plans for future electronic health record databases around the world.

    It is imperative to utilize these technological resources to educate and engage future nurses. This program prepares MSN students with the latest technology methods available and how they can use technology in combination with learning theories. The courses are offered online, with monthly in-class didactic experiences.

    The curriculum design utilizes recent scientific-based research developments and is delivered via WebCT, online distance learning and group work, and includes the use of Web page designs and e-portfolios.6 Experienced faculty from the education and nursing departments collaborate to deliver instruction utilizing virtual and real-time interactive lectures and faculty-guided discussions.

    Core Curriculum & Beyond

    All students are required to take core courses on scientific research. In a course on linking the mind, body and brain, taught by faculty within the MSET program, students learn the development and dynamics of adult cognitive processes, including prevailing research findings in biology, neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence and computer simulation. Students learn and design instructional environments, materials and methodologies that address multiple intelligences and learning styles.

    The next sequence, curriculum design and instruction in higher education, is taken along with educational technology. As the students learn how to develop a nursing curriculum, they experience the variety of educational technology tools available in assessing, teaching and evaluating educational programs.

    These courses are taught by nursing faculty in collaboration with an educator from the MSET department. Students learn how to work with faculty from different disciplines, and their objectives emphasize problem-based, integrated, community health and wellness education delivery methods.

    Core courses continue with psychometrics — the development of test and scaling measurements — and program evaluation (focused on outcomes assessment, course and career portfolio construction, analysis of aggregated trended data, consumer satisfaction surveys, long term student and alumni databases and accreditation processes and procedures).6

    Choose Electives

    At this point students choose approved electives to enhance their education. Grant writing is an option, taught by MSET faculty. The course details the process of developing grant requests, provides insight into the philanthropic organizations and governmental agencies that award funds, and teaches students how to write and submit grant proposals.

    The program culminates in a role practicum and seminar course (student teaching), which requires students to incorporate all they have learned throughout the program.

    Under assigned faculty mentors, students must develop lesson plans, teach in the classroom and online, develop tests for online use via the WebCT, incorporate all levels of technology in the seminars and prepare an article for publication in a nursing journal.

    The ultimate measurement of the student's success is based on their multimedia portfolio, which is developed throughout the program. This portfolio is a compilation of all the MSN student's work. It features their personal philosophy of nursing, course papers, PowerPoint presentations, Web quests, curriculum design and evaluation methodologies for a university and an individual course, their curriculum vitae and links to Web pages they created for patients, students and peers.


    1. American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2005, June). Faculty shortages in baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs: Scope of the problem and strategies for expanding the supply. Retrieved Oct. 27, 2006 from the World Wide Web:

    2. American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2005). Interdisciplinary education and practice. Retrieved Oct. 26, 2006 from the World Wide Web:

    3. Van Den Berg, H. (2004, June). Rating of SPICES criteria to evaluate and compare curricula. Medical Teaching, 26(4), 381-383. Retrieved Oct. 27, 2006 from the World Wide Web:

    4. Bukovinszky, A. Beginnings of ODL developments in the medical and health field in Hungary. Retrieved Oct. 27, 2006 from the World Wide Web:

    5. Mitchell, B., McCrorie, P., & Sedgwick, P. (2004). Student attitudes towards anatomy teaching and learning in a multiprofessional context. Medical Education, 38(7), 737-748. Retrieved Oct. 25, 2006 from the World Wide Web:

    6. Ramapo College of New Jersey. (2006). Master of science in nursing: Course descriptions. Retrieved Oct. 28, 2006 from the World Wide Web:

    Virginia M. Clerkin is an adjunct professor at Dominican College, Orangeburg, NY and is a recent MSN graduate at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Nursing and Ramapo College of New Jersey. G. Elaine Peterson is an associate professor at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.


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