Wednesday, 11 November 2015

From practice to academia

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

The transition from nursing student to staff nurse has been studied quite intensively but the transition from the clinic to academia less so. Australia, in common with many countries, has a severe shortage of nursing academics and in the UK it is proving very hard to fill senior academic posts. This study from Australia and the UK by Logan et al. titled: 'Transition from clinician to academic: an interview study of the experiences of UK and Australian Registered Nurses' and published in JAN aimed to: 'explore and compare the experiences of nurses in Australia and the UK as they moved from clinical practice into higher education institutions'. Interviews were held with 14 nurse educators and a thematic analysis carried out. As stated by the authors: 'The transition into universities of the education of the ‘minor professions’, including teaching, social work and professions allied to medicine, has not always been seamless, due, in part, to the inherent tension between intellectual knowledge and the experiential learning in practice needed to meet the demands of professional practice, as in nursing. Many nurses enter academia without higher level research qualifications: only 4% join their university with doctoral qualifications. While honing new teaching skills they must simultaneously develop their research profile'.

The findings of the study are presented under four themes: 'adapting to change, external pressures, teaching and progress up the academic ladder.' In terms of the external forces and the limited resources, what one participant said will be familiar to many nurses in universities: 'I think we’d like to be research intensive, but. . . I don’t see how we can be research intensive because particularly for me, I sometimes feel subsumed by the undergraduate programme and the other programmes that I contribute to. . .In the Times Higher. . .the most successful professors in the universities, including this university, are the ones who don’t do any teaching, they just do research'. As stated by the authors: 'The position of practice disciplines in universities, such as nursing, has long been precarious', and this is reflected in the findings. In conclusion, the authors say: 'More resources, including academic time, systems of support and mentorship are needed for nurses to progress to postdoctoral research and justify nursing’s place amongst academic departments'.

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Logan PA, Gallimore D, Jordan S (2015) Transition from clinician to academic: an interview study of the experiences of UK and Australian Registered Nurses Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 110.1111/jan.12848

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