VANCOUVER, Wash. — For many years the methods used in training nursing educators have remained unchanged. As the nursing shortage looms, a shortage of nursing faculty also comes into play. A collaborative project between Washington State University Vancouver’s nursing department and library and information services department will use technology to enhance the technological and cultural competence of future nursing educators.

According to project coordinator Renee Hoeksel, programs to prepare nurse educators have been very scarce in the Pacific Northwest for years, and of the few courses that did exist, many did not consistently use cutting-edge technology. They were teaching for today — not for the future.

Funded by a $54,766 grant from the Northwest Health Foundation and $66,865 in university funds, Hoeksel and co-investigators Dawn Doutrich and Leslie Wykoff will develop a five-course program, including two new courses for the master’s of nursing program that use Web-, DVD- and communications-based technology. Students can access information and activities that support their theory-based learning via the Internet. This portion of the program will be offered asynchronously. The project also is approved for a second year of funding based on a review of the project’s first year.

“A report from the Northwest Health Foundation shows that to stay even with the nursing shortage, universities need to double their current enrollments. The average age of nursing educators right now is 54, and they will soon be retiring,” Hoeksel said. “This project is designed to make becoming a nursing faculty or a nursing staff development specialist more accessible. Students will be authorized and trained on laptops that are loaned to them during the program to make sure they have the technology to access all of the materials used. Currently many nursing faculty and staff development specialists are using methods and techniques that have been used for years. We want future nursing educators across all settings to use and develop new teaching methods, and we believe technology can help them do this.”

The two-year pilot program begins in January with six students, and the first Web-based course, “Nursing Education in the Information Age,” will anchor the program. Mentoring and supervision of student teaching experiences are key clinical components. Six more students will start the program in January 2003. Interested students should contact the WSU Vancouver nursing department, 360/546-9752, for more information.

Hoeksel is an associate professor of nursing and director of nursing programs at WSU Vancouver. Doutrich is an assistant professor of nursing, and Wykoff is director of WSU Vancouver’s library and information services. Doutrich will work with students on developing and presenting electronic portfolios, as well as teach a new course, “Teaching Nursing in a Multicultural Society,” with faculty colleague Melody Rasmor. Wykoff and her staff will provide technological information, support and training for faculty and students.

The NWHF, founded in 1997, is an independent private foundation, committed to advancing, supporting and promoting the health of the people of Oregon and southwest Washington.

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