A growing body of evidence suggests that there has been a gradual increase in the demand for nurses over the past decade. This situation has escalated as researchers affirm that the supply of healthcare professionals from the nursing faculties has decreased sharply. The shortage can be attributed to the fact that tens of thousands of prospective students are denied the chance to enter the nursing faculty. As a result, there has been a dwindling supply and increasing demand for the nursing faculty (Salminen et al., 2010). The future looks even bleaker with the anticipated exit of baby boomers due to faculty retirements expected in less than a decade. In addition, it has also been revealed that the rate at which students choose a nursing career is declining in many schools.
The introduction of clinical nurse-leader and Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs in the faculty has not rectified the growing negative trend as students prefer earning the practice-based to the traditional research-based practice doctorate (Salminen et al., 2010). The practice-based doctorate enables them to invest their expertise in corresponding career situations. In addition, the nursing faculty shortage has been accelerated by the fact that clinical positions offer better payment packages than academic positions. Academic institutions are commonly faced with budget pressures that lower the salaries of academic professionals.
Nursing educators continue to utilize the traditional teaching methods that do not match the needs of the digital-age students (Salminen et al., 2010). As a result, there exists a mismatch between the content taught and the expected outcome by the learners. Most of the students do not substantially understand the meaningful role of nursing in their professional lives. Moreover, many researchers posit that nursing educators fail to explore scientific research for the best approaches to utilize in nursing education. Another problem facing nursing education is the numerous uncompensated responsibilities entitled to the nurse educators (Abushaikha, Mahadeen, AbdelKader, & Nabolsi, 2014). The graduate nursing students anticipate playing autonomous roles besides shaping their profession and flexibility. However, the nurse educators have too much workload that fails to match the poor salaries offered (Abushaikha et al., 2014). Lastly, there is a growing concern over the prolonged time and professional requirements before one is accredited as a nurse educator as compared to other disciplines. This phenomenon leaves nurse educators with limited time to offer their services before retirement.
Importance of acknowledging Environmental Forces and Issues Affecting Curriculum Development and Student Learning
Nursing educators need to acknowledge the requirements of the healthcare environment before they endeavor to supply a new workforce to the health care system. They must keep pace with the changes in the healthcare environment in a bid to ensure the delivery of high-quality, safe, and effective patient care (Moyer & Wittmann-Price, 2008). In light of the changing healthcare environment, educators need to embrace technology in curriculum development to equip future nurses with the necessary skills of handling digitally-availed patient information. To stay up-to-date, they must incorporate the appropriate skills with new technology into the curricula to supply the relevant workforce that matches the future nursing needs (Abushaikha et al., 2014). As a result, the nurse educators will be in a better position to assess and amend the education program with a view of improving the delivery of healthcare.
Environmental Forces/Issues Influencing Curriculum Development Process
The current healthcare system in the United States is embracing the Electronic Health Record system (EHRs) to improve the existing curricula in many nursing education settings (American Psychological Association, 2011). The modern-day student is exposed to increased web-based technology. The rapid technology change continues to pose a tough challenge to the curriculum development processes. Most nurse educators, who are considerably older to adapt to the rapid technological dynamics quickly are unable to align the curriculum with the tech-savvy students. As a result, the new technology has not been implemented adequately in the learning environment (Hallmark, 2015). This situation results in a mismatch between the nurse graduates and career requirements.
Changing Student needs and Characteristics
The twenty-first century has intensified the needs of adult students. It is a common practice in higher education to have students who are actively involved in other activities such as work and sports activities apart from learning (McAllister, 2012). This diversity influences the needs of the students. While some can be interested in taking up nursing as a career course, others only need to gain some skills required in some fields such as the military or clinical private practice (American Psychological Association, 2011). These different health characteristics and needs of the twenty-first century can pose a challenge to educators as they instill important skills in students. Millennial students have been described as people seeking credentials rather than expertise and knowledge. This shift of learning goals has posed challenges to nursing educators.
Characteristics of Adult Students and how they influence the Learning Environment
Adult students have numerous attributes that are quite different from young children students (Rutherford-Hemming, 2012). The main attributes of adult learning encompass purposeful, goal-oriented activities. Secondly, participation is voluntary. The adult students choose and determine what to study. Moreover, adult students get actively involved in the learning process as opposed to pedagogical involvement that is passive. Clear goals and objectives are set before the commencement of the learning process that provides a framework for the curriculum to fulfill (Rutherford-Hemming, 2012). With adult students, feedback is highly valued to gauge the level of achievement of the teaching process. Additionally, adult learners bring life experiences and a burgeoning need for participation in every decision associated with their learning. Opportunities are provided to allow the reflection on their level of understanding. These attributes impact the learning environment in that the learning process changes from the teacher-oriented to the learner-centered dimension. The curriculum is developed based on the learning needs of the adult students (McAllister, 2012).
Strategies for Multicultural Students in Learning
Nurse educators can find it difficult in handling students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Some strategies can be employed to effectively assist multicultural students through learning to avoid cultural alienation. Firstly, the educators can use guest lecturers from various cultures to provide an insight into the available healthcare perspectives (Pavlakis & Leondiou, 2014). This approach creates a feeling of respect for minority groups. Guest lecturers should provide healthcare views from the minority cultures as a consideration to build confidence in the affected students. Secondly, the nurse educators can use gaming, simulations, and role play as strategies to boost the active participation of the students including the minority groups (Hall & Guidry, 2013). It also promotes the understanding of cultural diversity among the students. Thirdly, the incorporation of cultural information can enhance the learning process by encouraging discussions that touch on cultural differences. Researchers affirm that students get excited when engaged in discussion about their cultural background that the other students are eager to know. In this manner, the other students get to understand each other better.
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Salminen, L., Stolt, M., Saarikoski, M., Suikkala, A., Vaartio, H., & Leino-Kilpi, H. (2010). Future challenges for nursing education: A European perspective. Nurse Education Today, 30(1), 233-238.