As of June 2009

Group of nursing studentsAlthough the SWIFT program yielded fewer nurse educators than originally proposed, the validity of the SWIFT model was substantiated during the implementation. The table below summarizes the number of candidates originally recruited to obtain their master’s degree in nursing or a certificate in teaching – the Health Professional Educational Certificate (HPEC); the number of candidates who completed or are still enrolled in their master’s program or the HPEC program; and the number who are actually teaching nursing students part-time while continuing to work for their sponsoring employer.

  # of Candidates Recruited # of Candidates Completed # of Candidates Enrolled # of Candidates Teaching
MS Program in Nursing 44 22 12 At least 6
HPEC Program 22 15 0 14
Totals 66 37 12 20

17 candidates dropped out of the SWIFT program while studying for their master’s degree or HPEC certificate

There are several reasons for the lower than expected number of nurse educator candidates recruited and who have either completed or are on track to complete their programs, and these are summarized in Lesson Learned. The SWIFT model of partnership between employers of nurses and nursing education programs was demonstrated to be quite successful when resources were allotted to the effort of recruiting and supporting candidates to gain the necessary educational credentials to become nurse educators.

Resources needed for healthcare employer participation are far more costly that those needed for nursing program participants. The employers need to commit financial resources sufficient to motivate selected employees to return to school to acquire a master’s degree in nursing or a Health Professional Educational Certificate. These resources include tuition support and for the master’s degree candidates, paid time off to enable the candidate to take classes on a full-time basis. The average amount of financial support paid by employers per candidate who completed a master’s degree was roughly $33,000.00 for those employers who provided both tuition support and paid time off of 8 hours per week. The actual costs per employer varied between $24,000 and $40,000 per candidate. This variance largely was due to nurse salary variance between rural and urban locations. The candidates who completed the HPEC program received 100% tuition support through the SWIFT grant, and the cost of that was $7500.00 per candidate. Other, less costly resources required from employers involved staff time and materials spent in recruiting employees to become nurse educator candidates and staff time in meetings to assist in the implementation of the SWIFT program. There are no estimates of the staff time and materials resources used by the employers.

Resources required by the nurse educator programs participating in SWIFT included faculty time to attend approximately 4 meetings per year and some additional advising and faculty time spent in SWIFT candidate recruitment activities and advising the candidates on streamlining their academic program plan in order to graduate as quickly as possible. These costs were minimal, and there are no estimates of the actual resources spent.

There were 17 candidates who dropped out of the SWIFT program while they were working on their master’s degree (10) or HPEC certificate (7). Most of the master’s degree candidates dropped out of SWIFT because their agreement with their employers required that they work full-time and go to school full-time, and they needed to slow down their educational program and become part-time students. Those individuals have either graduated or are still enrolled in their programs. Two of the candidates left because they left their employers, and there is no additional data about them. One candidate dropped out in the first semester because she felt she could not manage graduate education, and there is no information about whether she has attempted to return to school.

Although, the number of candidates who completed their master’s degree and are actually teaching part-time appears low (6 out of 22), we have incomplete data about the current status of many of the candidates. Some deliberately waited to look for a teaching position for 3-6 months so they could orient properly to their new roles within their employment setting, and one Nurse Practitioner has been unable to find a teaching position in the evenings or weekends, and her job requires her to practice during the days Monday through Friday. Another reason this has occurred is because one major health care employer in the Milwaukee area has reorganized and eliminated many of its positions for Clinical Nurse Specialists. Several of the SWIFT candidates from that organization have since left to seek employment elsewhere. The remaining employers remain committed to working with their SWIFT graduates to ensure that they are teaching on a part-time basis.