Dr. Sharon Beasley, Allied Health Division Chair at Rend Lake College, has been invited to speak at the Illinois Hospital Association Regions 4 and 5 Healthcare Workforce Forum for Southern Illinois on March 4.
Beasley said she plans to address educational aspects of the nation’s nursing shortage.
“The biggest shortage is nursing faculty, the nurses who teach nurses,” said Beasley. She said nurses must have a master’s degree in order to teach.
According to IHA information, the purpose of the forum is to identify issues and challenges to healthcare occupation education in Southern Illinois and to enhance partnerships between colleges, hospitals, clinical settings and government entities to address capacity, access and retention for the regional education system.
“The idea is to communicate so everyone knows what is happening and to look for solutions,” Beasley said.
According to Beasley’s research, bachelor’s degree nursing and nursing graduate programs turned away 15,944 applicants nationwide in 2003-2004 due to a lack of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors and budget restraints.
Challenges in keeping the necessary number of nursing faculty include aging, scarcity of replacement faculty, regulations, inadequate clinical experiences and the expense of new programs. The average age of healthcare workers is 45; for nursing faculty, the average age is 49. The average age of BSN and graduate school faculty is 51.5 and for doctoral faculty, the average age is 56.8.
Nurses qualified to teach often are lured away from teaching by the better money to be made in the clinical sector, according to Beasley. The average national salary for a nurse practitioner is more than $80,000, and the average salary for a nursing director is more than $93,000. However, an assistant professor of nursing averages just more than $55,000, while the starting educational salary in this area is approximately $35,000.
Rend Lake College currently offers programs for Certified Nurse Assistant, Practical Nursing and Associate Degree Nursing. RLC also recently joined forces with McKendree College to offer a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. The courses will begin in the fall and will be taught by McKendree instructors at Rend Lake College. Scheduling in the bachelor’s program is flexible, usually set up for one night per week, and students receive about a 50 percent discount in McKendree’s tuition rate.
At Rend Lake College, Beasley’s responsibilities include overseeing the Nursing, Certified Nurse Assistant, Emergency Medical Technician (First Responder through Associate Degree in Paramedical Services), Occupational Therapy Assistant, Medical Laboratory Technology, Surgical Technology, Health Information Technology, the American Heart Association Training Center (including CPR/AED, Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support training), Early Childhood Education and Paraprofessional Training (Teacher’s Assistant) programs.
Beasley has been employed as an educator at Rend Lake College for 25 years, and also is an online facilitator for the Masters in Nursing program at the University of Phoenix. She obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Nursing from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Education with a concentration in Workforce Education and Development from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Beasley has co-authored a nursing textbook, Critical Thinking in Nursing: A Cognitive Skills Workbook, which recently was published by Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins.
For more information about the conference or RLC’s nursing programs, contact Beasley at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1225, or call toll-free (in-district only) at 1-800-369-5321, Ext. 1225.