Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Awards New Funding to AACN to Study Factors Influencing Nurse Faculty Career Choice

AACN to lead the nation’s most comprehensive survey of doctoral nursing students to uncover underlying causes of the nurse faculty shortage

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 5, 2012 – The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) was awarded new funding through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Evaluating Innovations in Nursing Education (EIN) program to study facilitators and barriers to careers as nurse faculty. AACN was included among the third cohort of five grantees to receive funding during this latest cycle of EIN grant awards, which focus on doctoral nursing education and the production of nurse faculty. Read the Foundation’s press release announcing the EIN awardees at

“Meeting the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations related to the preferred educational composition of the nursing workforce hinges on having a robust supply of nurse faculty available to enhance capacity in baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs,” said AACN President Jane Kirschling.  “Uncovering the causes underlying the shortage of nurse faculty must be a priority if stakeholders are to effectively address this ongoing concern for the nursing profession.”

Through this new initiative, AACN will conduct a national survey of 3,000 doctoral students in research- and practice-focused programs to identify the factors that either impede or enhance the pursuit of a long-term career as a faculty member. Currently, only half of research-focused doctoral graduates pursue careers in academia, and an even smaller percentage of Doctor of Nursing Practice program graduates do so as well. The investigators will examine how previous work experiences, salary expectations, competition with practice opportunities, and perceptions of the faculty role influence decision-making. The goal of this study is to determine the ideal set of inducements and incentives that can be used by nursing schools nationwide to recruit new faculty, negotiate for needed resources, and retain seasoned nurse educators in teaching positions.

Dr. Geraldine “Polly” Bednash, AACN’s Chief Executive Officer, and Dr. Di Fang, AACN’s Director of Research and Data Services, will serve as co-directors of this study.  Dr. Catherine Millett, co-author of the book Three Magic Letters: Getting the PhD, will serve as a consultant for this project and will work with AACN staff, including Research Associate Nancy Steffan, to conduct focus groups and adapt a survey instrument to meet the goals of this study.

“Given its comprehensive dataset and resident expertise, AACN is well positioned to address the fundamentally important issues embedded in the IOM recommendation to study how faculty salaries, benefits, and job attributes are linked to the decision on whether to pursue a faculty role,” added Dr. Kirschling. “We look forward to working with EIN Program Director Dr. Michael Yedidia and his team to produce new evidence that ultimately will help to alleviate the nursing faculty shortage and generate new interest in careers in nursing education.”

For more information on the Evaluating Innovations in Nursing Education (EIN) program, including the new interactive online tool (NuFAQs) to create customized views of data from EIN’s 2011 National Survey of Nurse Faculty, see

For more information on the nursing faculty shortage including efforts to address this issue, see AACN’s fact sheet at

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter or Facebook

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for university and four-year college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 700 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide, AACN's educational, research, governmental advocacy, data collection, publications, and other programs work to establish quality standards for bachelor's- and graduate-degree nursing education, assist deans and directors to implement those standards, influence the nursing profession to improve health care, and promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice.



Robert Rosseter
202-463-6930, ext. 231