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NLN-Carnegie Study Examines Nurse Faculty Workload

Nationwide NLN-Carnegie Foundation Study Examines Nurse Faculty Workload  

Implications Revealed for Recruitment and Retention


September 20, 2007 — New York, NY — While newly minted nurse educators may enter the profession imagining time off in the summer, findings from the NLN - Carnegie Foundation National Study of Nurse Educators: Compensation, Workload and Teaching Practices, reported in the current issue of the National League for Nursings respected peer-reviewed journal, paint a different picture of the lifestyle that awaits them.

Fully two thirds of faculty surveyed say workload exceeds what they anticipated when they accepted employment. Even during school breaks and vacations, the average nurse educator works more than 24 hours per week, and work hours for those with administrative responsibilities exceed 31 hours per week during vacation and break periods.

In fact, the study suggests, excessive workload puts a significant damper on job satisfaction among nurse educators, with 44 percent saying that they are dissatisfied with their current workload. Moreover, overwork appears to be undermining faculty retention. More than one in four nurse educators who said they were likely to leave their current job cited the desire for reduced workload as a motivating factor.

These key findings are part of the NLNs continuing presentation in Nursing Education Perspectives, (Vol. 28, No. 5; Sept/Oct 2007) accessible at Another startling revelation is that veteran and novice nurse educators work nearly identical numbers of hours weekly, defying expectations that years of experience would lighten an instructors workload. This information also has resonance for schools of nursing across the academic spectrum struggling to attract and retain qualified faculty, considered vital to reverse the persistent shortage of nurses nationwide.

Other intriguing data to emerge from the part of the study focused on workload of full-time faculty in non-administrative positions in both pre-licensure RN and graduate-level RN (masters and above) programs include:

  • During the school term, nurse educators worked an average of 56 hours per week - a figure that exceeds the range of research findings on workload among US faculty more generally, which indicate that, on average, American academics work between 45 and 55 hours per week.
  • More than 62 percent of survey respondents worked, on average, an additional day each week (7-10 hours) outside of their primary academic institutions
  • Three-quarters of a nurse educators work during the school term is devoted to student-centered activities: classroom teaching; advising/mentoring; and clinical supervision
  • Nurse educators most often spend time during school breaks on research and clinical practice
  • While they typically spend an equal amount of time in classroom instruction, those who teach in pre-licensure RN programs spend much more time on clinical supervision than those who teach at the graduate level; the latter, however, generally have administrative and institutional responsibilities that take up their time

The analysis is based on data from the 2005-06 academic year, the latest available, collected by the National League for Nursing and the Carnegie Foundation Preparation for the Professions Program. "We are thrilled to have forged a partnership with the Carnegie Foundation that has given us so much valuable insight into conditions and challenges faced by the nations nurse educators," said NLN CEO Dr. Beverly Malone. "While this research is merely a starting point, it highlights potential areas of further study as we continue to seek solutions to the shortage of nurses and nurse educators that has reached crisis proportions."

A detailed picture, garnered from the study, of how Americas estimated 32,000 nurse educators are compensated, was published in an earlier issue of Nursing Education Perspectives (Vol. 28, No. 4; July/Aug. 2007); and initial study highlights appeared in the journals May/June 2007 edition (Vol. 28, No. 3).

These journal articles are an introduction to the empirical data obtained through the survey, conducted online. Respondents represent approximately 25 percent of the nursing faculty teaching in certificate and degree-granting programs in diverse college and university settings throughout the country that prepare nurses for all levels of clinical practice, as well as to enter academia.

Editors and Reporters: For contact information for story sources, please call Karen R. Klestzick at 212-812-0376 or email

Dedicated to excellence in nursing, the National League for Nursing is the premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education offering faculty development, networking opportunities, testing and assessment, nursing research grants, and public policy initiatives to its 23,000 individual and 1,100 institutional members.