Oregon’s Nurse Faculty

Oregon Nurse Faculty

LPN and RN Students


Faculty Vacancy Rate

*Statistics current as of July 2019

Schools of nursing across the state are struggling to fill faculty positions to teach the next generation of nurses at all educational levels. Reports from the Oregon State Board of Nursing indicate some nursing programs around the state have already been forced to decrease enrollment due to lack of faculty.


Scope of the Issue

  • An estimated 720 nurse faculty work at Oregon’s 16 community colleges, six universities and four proprietary schools offering nursing programs. They teach approximately 3,900 enrolled nursing students. For patient safety, the Oregon Nurse Practice Act requires that there be one nurse faculty for a maximum of eight students studying in a clinical environment.
  • From 2011 to 2014, more than one-half (51%) of nurse educators left their nurse educator positions.
  • One-half of Oregon’s current nurse educators are expected to retire by 2025.
  • The nurse faculty vacancy rate in 2018 was reported to be over 7% for programs in western states.
  • Registered nurses make up the largest segment of Oregon’s licensed health care workforce.

Position Requirements

  • A Master’s or doctorate degree in nursing and two to three years of clinical practice are required to work as nurse faculty. Obtaining these degrees takes both time and money. A master’s degree in nursing may cost up to $60,000. A typical doctoral program takes five full-time years to complete, costing up to $113,000.

Pay Inequity

  • Nurse faculty make, on average, $10,500 – $38,000 LESS than registered nurses working in care settings.
  • The combination of loan debt and pay inequity make recruiting and retaining nurse faculty difficult.
  • In 2014, two-thirds of Oregon’s faculty considered leaving nursing education; one of the main reasons was for higher paying jobs.

Call to Action

This is not just a nursing problem. A lack of nurse faculty in Oregon will impact the ability for Oregonians to receive quality health care in a timely manner.  Without enough faculty, program enrollment must decrease, meaning fewer nurses for Oregonians. 

Solving the nursing faculty shortage cannot be accomplished by nursing programs alone. Innovative strategies and solutions must include input from higher education administrations, collective bargaining units, human resource personnel, clinical partners and policy makers.

Oregon Nurse Faculty Task Force Recommendations

The Nurse Faculty Task Force is made up of deans, directors, educators and stakeholders who are committed to ensuring that Oregon’s nursing programs have the teachers necessary to provide quality education to Oregon’s nursing students.  Following the release of OCN’s Oregon’s Nurse Faculty Workforce – 2014 Update report, the task force began meeting to discuss ways to address the nurse educator shortage. The following are the top recommendations compiled by the group:


  • Create a campaign to increase interest in the role of nurse faculty, utilizing partners in human resources departments, bargaining units and education administration.
  • Establish funding to incent nurses to teach.
  • Provide tuition reimbursement or loan forgiveness for nursing faculty
  • Create and fund programs for faculty development and mentorship.
  • Develop education/practice partnerships and joint appointments.
  • Find creative solutions to address pay inequity.

Additional Recommendations from Nursing Literature

Expand faculty capacity in non-traditional ways with existing resources.

Traditionally, nursing programs have objected to the use of non-nursing faculty, faculty with non-nursing degrees, and sharing resources and course content with other disciplines. By utilizing relevant resources from other disciplines, colleges may be able to minimize the impact of faculty shortages and enhance the learning experience.  Strategies could include:

  • Develop joint academic activities with other disciplines, both within and across colleges and universities to capitalize on existing resources.
  • Accept course work from other disciplines, when appropriate, that meet nursing program requirements.
  • Use non-nurse faculty to teach select nursing program courses.
  • Use qualified non-nurse faculty to hold administrative positions with the nursing program.

Utilize retired faculty.

Reexamine college and university retirement policies and procedures to allow experienced faculty to continue teaching.  Strategies could include:

  • Examine and eliminate any unnecessary restrictions for faculty to continue teaching, particularly mandatory retirement ages.
  • Design new retirement planning to support the inclusion of retired faculty.
  • Realign current faculty workloads to accommodate part-time retired faculty.

Examine current processes and procedures for providing clinical education.

Clinical instruction is an expensive, but necessary, component of the nursing education.  However, as currently taught, clinical instruction is provided for small groups of students with extensive oversight by nursing faculty. Additionally, given the wide variety of clinical settings where nurses work, faculty must have expertise in the specialty area in which they teach. Programs with few students may need multiple nurse clinical instructors to adequately cover all areas of instructions.  Strategies could include:

  • Increase formal partnerships between schools of nursing and clinical facilities, and identify specific processes that would benefit both parties.
  • Appoint qualified staff from clinical facilities as clinical instructors.
  • Include appropriate staff from clinical facilities on school of nursing committees to gain additional perspectives on the education process.
  • Explore and incorporate clinical education strategies from other healthcare disciplines that increase the capacity of faculty.
  • Utilize technology and simulation laboratories to fullest extent allowed.

Expand professional development for faculty members.

The higher education environment is changing in dramatic ways, and faculty may require assistance in navigating the constant current of change. Strong professional development program can support faculty in enhancing their teaching skills, and ultimately their overall job satisfaction.  Strategies may include:

  • Conduct formal orientation for all full-time, part-time, and adjunct faculty on their roles and responsibilities within the nursing program.
  • Identify minimum professional development activities that should be required of all faculty, and offer additional guidance and development as required.
  • Critically evaluate faculty roles and expectations and determine which roles can be eliminated or modified, and how to best utilize current faculty.
  • Cultivate an academic environment that offers guidance and support for all faculty.
  • Encourage faculty to complete graduate or post-graduate certificate programs in education, especially faculty not academically prepared in nursing education.
  • Incorporate nursing education content in all graduate nursing programs to increase student awareness of this as a potentially attractive career option.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2005). Faculty shortages in baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs: Scope of the problem and strategies for expanding the supply.  Washington DC.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Special Survey on Vacant Faculty Positions for Academic Year 2018-2019 [PDF document]. Retrieved from https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/News/Surveys-Data/Vacancy18.pdf

MacIntyre, R.C., Murray, T.A., Teel, C.S., & Karshmer, J.F. (2009). Five recommendations for prelicensure clinical nursing education. Journal of Nursing Education, 48, 447-453.

Morris, B. (2015.) Where Are They Now? A Retrospective Analysis of Churn Among Registered Nurses in Oregon. Portland, Oregon: Oregon Center for Nursing.

Maryland Higher Education Commission (2006). Maryland nursing program capacity study. Annapolis MD.

Oregon State Board of Nursing. (2019). 2017-2018 Annual Survey of Nursing Education Programs.

Study.com (2016). How Much Does a Doctorate Degree Cost? Retrieved from http://study.com/articles/How_Much_Does_a_Doctorate_Degree_Cost.html

US News & World Report. (2012). Weighing Costs of an On-line Master’s in Nursing. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2012/01/12/weighing-costs-of-an-online-masters-in-nursing-

Special Acknowledgement:

Thank you to the Nurse Faculty Task Force 2016 for their input in creating the original Nurse Faculty Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation document, used to create this page.