Three Trends in Nursing Education


Three Trends in Nursing Education

Local nursing college deans share their thoughts

By Working Nurse
to Save

We asked deans of local nursing colleges about the top three trends in nursing education. Here are their answers.

1) Diversity. We are seeing more men, more international students and more students who come to nursing after pursuing other experiences first.

2) Use of simulation. It has become increasingly difficult to get real clinical placements, but the National Council of State Boards of Nursing has found that substituting high-quality simulation experiences for up to half of traditional clinical hours produces comparable education outcomes.

3) Interdisciplinary education. Putting the healthcare students together in a classroom environment, before they start working together in the clinical setting, allows them to develop team building skills; increases awareness of each other’s roles and educational experiences; and teaches them to work together in making decisions.

Lynn Doering, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, Associate Dean, Academic and Student Affairs, UCLA School of Nursing


1) Understand the population. Nurses must consider how the environmental, social, behavioral and genetic components of a population affect their healthcare needs.

2) Address health equity and access. We need to embrace a global perspective as we prepare for the inevitable infectious diseases, trauma and disasters that cross national boundaries.

3) Transition of care. We must build bridges from acute care to ambulatory and residential care; address transitions of care for military veterans coming home; in prisoners who are being released; and in victims of trauma.

Aja Tulleners Lesh, RN, Ph.D., Dean and Professor, School of Nursing, Azusa Pacific University


1) Nursing faculty shortage. An aging workforce and limited incentives for experienced RNs to pursue roles in nursing education are limiting student capacity.

2) Hands-on training. Experienced RNs who retire are being replaced with inexperienced new graduates. Nursing schools must more effectively collaborate with hospitals to provide hands-on specialty training programs.

3) Educational advancement. ADN-prepared RNs are returning to pursue their bachelor’s degrees, and BSNs are seeking graduate or doctoral education.

Cheryl Smythe-Padgham, RN, DNP, WHNP-BC, Assistant Dean/Director of Nursing, Concordia University Irvine


1) Work settings. There is a growing demand for RNs who can work at the top of their licenses in primary and outpatient settings. Universities need to be bold and provide a blend of both inpatient and outpatient clinical opportunities for students to fill this gap.

2) Collaboration. Interprofessional educational experiences are essential for students to understand that collaboration is necessary in an increasingly interdependent healthcare delivery system.

3) Technology. We face the challenge of learning, teaching and working with emerging technologies. We must integrate new technology for patient- and family-centered care while teaching students to navigate the technical and ethical issues they may encounter.

Leah FitzGerald, FNP-BC, Ph.D., Dean of Nursing, Mount Saint Mary’s University


1) More BSN-prepared nurses.

2) Work Setting. Greater need to prepare graduates for roles outside the acute care hospital setting

3) Residency Programs. Greater need for transitioning to practice and residency programs for new graduates.

Robyn Nelson, RN, MSN, Ph.D., Dean, College of Nursing, West Coast University


Which Degree is Right for Me?

Choosing which advanced degree to pursue should be determined by a nurse’s personal work trajectory. The BSN affords a nurse a greater opportunity for employment in today’s market where hospitals are trying to attain magnet status.   Completion of an MSN allows for a variety of career options, including leadership and administration, nursing education, clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioner practice.  The DNP with a clinical focus can function in nurse leadership roles, while the Ph.D. focuses more on teaching and building nursing science. 

Leah FitzGerald, FNP-BC, Ph.D., Dean of Nursing, Mount Saint Mary’s University


New Frontiers in Online Learning

Online programs are leveraging advances in technology to offer the same curriculums as campus programs while providing flexibility that allows nurses to continue to work and complete learning activities/ projects at times that work best for them.

Doris Savron and Lisa Radesi, RN, DNP, CNS, PHN, Deans, College of Health Professions, University of Phoenix


Until recently, there has not been an emphasis on national accreditation of nursing programs. National accreditors (CCNE, CNEA and ACEN) use the highest standards and have a broader perspective than state-level accreditation. Also, national accreditation often makes a big difference in acceptance of transfer credits, making academic progression more seamless and less costly.

Jan Jones-Schenk, RN, D.HSc., NE-BC, Academic VP, College of Health Professions, Western Governors University


Adult learners have more flexibility to balance studies with family, work and other needs. We’re seeing more people from greater distances taking our online courses, since the opportunity to select the college or university of their choice isn’t limited by where they live or work. Students like the nontraditional style, especially nurses with varying learning styles.

Elizabeth Bossert, RN, PhD., Dean, School of Nursing, Loma Linda University


This article is a sidebar to a longer article DNP & Me: Five Reasons to Pursue a Nursing Doctorate 


This article is from

You might also like

Angels In Hell: The Nurse POWs of Bataan and Corregidor
Chart Your Career Course


Chart Your Career Course

How to find your passion and follow it through

Nursing Uniforms Through Time


Nursing Uniforms Through Time

Modern scrubs are practical, but there was something elegant about the nursing uniforms of ages past

View all Features Articles

Robert Noakes