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Home : Media

11 October 2012

Rachael McLaughlin, Director
Marketing and Communications
Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International

Leadership Development Program Addresses Nurse Faculty Retention –
A Key to Easing Nursing Shortage

In partnership with The Elsevier Foundation, the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International completed their first program that builds nurse faculty
leadership skills and fosters academic career success

(Indianapolis) – As universities reopen their doors this academic year, the issue of nurse faculty retention is at the forefront. According to a 2011-2012 American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) report on enrollment and graduations in baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs, “U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 75,000 qualified applicants in 2011 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors and budget constraints.”

To address junior faculty attrition rates, the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) partnered with The Elsevier Foundation in 2009 to create the Nurse Faculty Mentored Leadership Development (NFMLD) pilot program. The primary objectives of the NFMLD program were to effectively transition new nurse educators into the faculty role and develop leadership knowledge that would improve the retention of those educators.

The 18-month pilot program included 15 new nurse faculty participants (in their positions less than five years), their mentors and seven faculty. These participants (Scholars) represented 28 universities and 16 states and provinces.  The program concluded at STTI’s 41st Biennial Convention, 29 October- 2 November 2011. A summary report was recently compiled, demonstrating the Scholars are true change agents. At the completion of the NFMLD experience, 100 percent of the participating Scholars reported that they accomplished their stated goals and objectives. Among these, Scholars said they: (1) developed new leadership and team-building behaviors and skills; (2) expanded their professional network; (3) increased their scope of influence; and (4) successfully designed a career development plan.

“Scholars participating in the NFMLD program produced many remarkable outcomes. During the 18-month NFMLD program, these 15 Scholars assumed 39 new leadership roles in their educational institutions, professional associations and their communities. Four NFMLD Scholars accepted new leadership positions or were promoted. During the NFMLD program, participating Scholars produced no less than 45 scholarly professional presentations. These included published scholarly papers, posters and presentations at professional conferences,” said NFMLD faculty advisor, Tony Forrester, PhD, RN, ANEF.

Focus on Mentorship
Research shows that those who take part in a mentoring program have higher job satisfaction, are better able to obtain grants, can more successfully lead professional organizations and are more prolific authors of scholarly books and journal articles. Additionally, research has shown that this type of job satisfaction translates into higher retention rates.

The NFMLD leadership journey challenged Scholars with a rigorous mentored leadership curriculum designed to effectively develop their leadership knowledge so they will not only succeed in the profession but also be prepared to guide others.

“I’m such a different person than when I started,” said Scholar Michael T. Clark, DrNP, CRNP, CL. “I was just thinking I’m going to go into teaching because it was the logical next step in my career. I wasn’t thinking about leadership; I wanted to be a competent teacher, and I wanted to bring my clinical [experience] into the classroom. It (NFMLD) really opened my eyes that you can’t just carve it out this way. If you are going to push quality, you have to integrate leadership and scholarship. These dimensions would not really have developed [for me] without the program,” he said.

Leadership Project
A requirement of the NFMLD program was for the Scholars to plan and implement a leadership project that would directly benefit their organization and positively impact nursing education. Participant projects fell into four categories:

  • Curriculum revision and design
  • Simulation and technical innovations
  • Academic practice and clinical partnerships
  • Quality initiatives

“The NFMLD provided an amazing opportunity to grow as a leader in nursing education not only at my own university, but also to develop and grow as a leader in the nursing education community,” said Bette Mariani, PhD, RN. “This unique opportunity to develop a long-term rapport with an expert nurse faculty mentor who is also an excellent role model and leader is crucial to the future of nursing education. I am grateful to have participated as a nurse Scholar, and I look forward to someday paying it forward and being a mentor to another rising Scholar.”

Dr. Mariani’s individual leadership development project was to transform a clinical simulation experience for junior level students through a leadership development project. As a result of the project, Dr. Mariani had an opportunity to:

  • Develop leadership knowledge through an innovative simulation project that was beneficial to students and faculty
  • Collaborate with colleagues on various levels throughout the undergraduate program
  • Advance the Scholar's expertise and leadership in clinical simulation

From a student and faculty perspective, Dr. Mariani’s newly developed scenario with debriefing was implemented in January 2011 and adopted by the course. This provided an opportunity for students to participate in the complex care of a patient in a safe setting. It also allowed faculty, through an orientation facilitated by the nurse Scholar, to become skillful in an innovative teaching-learning strategy. 

“When we first developed this program with STTI, we insisted on one criterion: the results had to be lasting,” said Tom Reller, vice president, Global Corporate Relations at Elsevier. “I’m glad to say the results show this first cohort demonstrated true leadership and that they are ready to mentor new nurse faculty in the future.”

Given the positive outcomes of the NFMLD pilot program, the program has been expanded into a full-fledged STTI leadership development academy. Due to the generous support of The Elsevier Foundation, the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy (NFLA) 2011-2013 academy is currently underway and will conclude at STTI’s biennial convention in Indianapolis, Ind., USA, in November 2013.
Visit STTI’s website to view video testimonials from program Scholars, Mentors, Faculty and Partners,  


About the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International
The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support the learning, knowledge and professional development of nurses committed to making a difference in health worldwide. Founded in 1922, STTI has more than 130,000 members in more than 85 countries. Members include practicing nurses, instructors, researchers, policymakers, entrepreneurs and others. STTI’s 486 chapters are located at 661 institutions of higher education throughout Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, England, Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, the United States and Wales. More information about STTI can be found online at

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a world-leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. The company works in partnership with the global science and health communities to publish more than 2,000 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and close to 20,000 book titles, including major reference works from Mosby and Saunders. Elsevier’s online solutions include SciVerse ScienceDirect, SciVerse Scopus, Reaxys, MD Consult and Nursing Consult, which enhance the productivity of science and health professionals, and the SciVal suite and MEDai’s Pinpoint Review, which help research and health care institutions deliver better outcomes more cost-effectively.

A global business headquartered in Amsterdam, Elsevier employs 7,000 people worldwide. The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a world-leading publisher and information provider, which is jointly owned by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

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