Graduate nursing faculty: Ensuring cultural and racial diversity through faculty development

Graduate nursing faculty: Ensuring cultural and racial diversity through faculty development

Glanville, Cathryn

Cultural and racial diversity continue to permeate nursing practice and education as major demographic shifts occur in the United States. Current trends indicate that as the need for culturally competent advanced practice nurses increase, the number of graduate faculty continues to decrease. A faculty development plan is proposed as a frame work to ensure success of minority graduate faculty in the academic roles of educator, nurse scholar, service provider, and community leader.

KEY WORDS: Graduate Faculty; Cultural Diversity; Faculty Development.

A major demographic shift is occurring in the United States and will continue during the next millennium. The minority population will become the majority, accounting for 51.1% of the total population. The predicted distribution of minority racial groups is as follows: Hispanic, 23.4%; black, 14.7%; Asian and Pacific Islander, 12%, American Indian and Alaska native, 0.6% (US Census Bureau, 1993; Andrews,1997). The demographic shift is creating a national need for heath care professionals, clinical and academic, who are prepared to meet the health care needs of the new majority population into the next millennium. This article will focus on a faculty development model that can be utilized to ensure a diverse group of academic health professionals that are adequately prepared to meet these challenges. The term cultural and racial diversity as used in this paper refers to the federally defined definition of minority groups used by the US Bureau of Census (1990).

Cultural and Racial Diversity in Academia

To some extent graduate nursing programs have been successful in addressing the projected heath care needs of the new majority by changing the focus of graduate nursing education to meet the educational and health care needs specific to the community of interest. Primary emphasis is being placed on preparing advanced practice nurses who are culturally competent and have the ability to provide primary care services in a variety of community based settings. Less successful efforts are the recruitment and retention of a culturally and racially diverse cadre of graduate faculty who will not only serve as mentors and role models for graduate students but will create a culturally sensitive teaching-learning environment. An important point is that without a culturally and racially diverse graduate faculty, goals related to preparing culturally competent advanced practice nurses cannot be fully realized. Brown (1995) supports this view in her description of the importance of a community of learners (COL) who ultimately prepare health care professionals to challenge the thinking, beliefs and values of the dominant culture and world views.

Recruitment and retention of culturally and racially diverse graduate faculty is a large task for academic administrators. Several factors may have attributed to unsuccessful attempts to recruit a culturally and racially diverse compliment of graduate faculty, such as actions based on affective responses to the words cultural and racial diversity, the dismounting of affirmative action programs as a measure of diversity and an existing shortage of doctorally prepared faculty.

Affective Responses to Cultural and Racial Diversity

According to Buchen (1992) passions are deeply rooted and feelings run high on issues related to cultural diversity. Discussions of issues on racial and cultural diversity require individuals to develop sensitivity and increase their awareness and knowledge about others who are different. Awareness then requires the development of skills to interact and further understand cultural and racial similarities and differences.

In academic institutions of higher education the terms cultural and racial diversity are often viewed as having become politicized. In some instances both terms engender vehement questions and comments about violations of “academic freedom and political correctness”(Buchen, 1992). It has been the experience of these writers that strong opposition to any type of organized efforts to ensure cultural and racial diversity will often meet numerous challenges not typically experienced with the majority faculty populous. Thus, there is little progress in moving toward goals related to diversity as stated in the philosophy and mission of most academic institution.

Affirmative Action: A Diversity Strategy

Affirmative Action Plans and Programs were designed to ensure that discrimination was eliminated as a component of the labor market and to ensure remuneration for past injustices encountered by groups protected by anti-discrimination laws (Brent, 1997). The intent of affirmative action was to create a level playing field and provide equal opportunities for all individuals within society. Today, on occasions affirmative action is viewed as meaning quotas, or impositions by government to hire unqualified individuals to meet the quotas, and reverse discrimination. This is not and was not the intent of this legislation. Ready (1997) emphasizes that in the political and judicial arenas there are threats to affirmative action. Examples cited are the Hopwood Decisions; Proposition 209 and actions by the University of California Board of Regents. Although such examples are limited to and affect cultural and racial diversity among students, these are real and potential exemplars that may have an impact on the maintenance adequate numbers of diverse graduate faculty. The level of diversity that exists among the graduate faculty may be a direct or indirect indication of the academic institutions philosophical perspective on diversity. Additionally, as the diversity of graduate students is reduced, this creates a future deficit of available faculty who are diverse. This cycle of continuation must be impacted in order to maintain a cadre of culturally and racially diverse graduate faculty and students. Another possible detrimental outcome of eliminating affirmative action is the potential to widen the existing disparities between minority and white faculty especially in areas of rank, salary, salary increases, and appointment procedures. Regardless of these potential problems, Ready ( 1997) indicates that the past 30 years of affirmative action have contributed to diversity in the work force as seen in this country today, including academia.

Doctorally Prepared Faculty Shortage

According to AACN (1996), increases have emerged in the number of new doctoral programs. Further, AACN ( 1996 ) indicates that the number of doctorally prepared faculty increased from 15% in 1978 to 50% in 1995. Today there is an estimated 14,300 doctorally prepared nurses in the United States. Of that number 8,378 are teaching in baccalaureate and higher degree programs. According to Hodges (1998) the demand for doctorally prepared nurses not only exceeds the current supply but large numbers of doctorally prepared nurses will retire by the year 2007.

A recent report from the US Department of Health & Human Services, Division of Nursing, (1995) describes the under representation of minorities in graduate and doctoral education. Also described is the under representation of minority faculty in nursing schools. The term minority was defined according to the federal definition of minority groups as used by the US Census Bureau: blacks (African, Haitian or descendants from the Dominican Republic); Hispanics (Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban); Asians (Filipino, Korean Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese Hawiian, Samoan Guamian and Asian Indian); American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Recruitment, retention and preparation of more culturally and racially diverse graduate students at the doctoral level who are interested in teaching will serve as a long range solution for creating more diverse graduate faculties. Another solution might be more emphasis on teaching as a functional role. Fewer graduate programs are focusing on teaching. Most graduate programs are focusing on the preparation of Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) , Nurse Practitioners (NP) or combined CNS/NP roles. However in the interim one must examine possible solutions for retention of culturally and racially diverse graduate faculty currently in the work force. These authors purport that faculty development might be one alternative for ensuring a diverse group of academic health care professionals committed to preparing culturally competent advanced practice nurses and the continued promulgation of a diverse nursing faculty for the future.

Faculty Development

Faculty development has been described as a continuous process, not a one-time event, that occurs within the context of a larger environment to establish a vision or desired goals through continual assessment of the strategies needed to accomplish the vision or desired goals (Reich, 1994). A broad definition of faculty development encompasses teaching activities, scholarship (i.e. research and publication), personal health, growth, and maturation, and the management of a professional career over a long period of time. Magnussen ( 1997) suggest that new faculty assume responsibility for working with the department chair to design a five year faculty development plan, an idea which fits with projected professional career plans over time.

Authors of this paper have chosen to define faculty development as a dynamic, systematic process that promotes improvement in the quadripartite role of teaching, research, service and community leadership which evolves from and congruent with personal and professional goals that are consistent with the institutions philosophy and mission. Faculty development. enhances perceived self and professional growth within the context of the individual cultural and racial background. This enables the faculty member to move toward diverse goals related to teaching, research, service and community leadership. Most novice doctorally and mastered prepared faculty especially nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialist will probably have a heavy orientation toward the service component. Therefore substantial mentoring and resources are required to develop these novice faculty members toward creative teaching strategies and scholarship for success in graduate education. The authors believe that such needs can best be met through a faculty development plan that consist of several integral components: mentoring, organizational structure, resource identification and utilization and faculty evaluation.


The term mentor originated in Greek mythology. The concept of mentoring occurred in Homer’s Odyssey when Ulysses entrusted the care of his son, Telemachus, to Mentor while he traveled the world during a 10 year odyssey (Prestholdt, 1990; Hagenow & McCrea,1994; Vance,1995).Mentoring was very prevalent in the arts and humanities when persons such as Lorenzo de Medici and Leonardo de Vinci mentored several young artist and apprentice (Yoder, 1990). Mentorship, mentoring and mentors are terms that have been used extensively in academia and often without clear and concise definitions. Based on the authors view points, a distinction among these terms is important mentorship is an intense relationship that promotes personal, professional and scholarly development of a novice nurse (May, Meleis, & Winstead-Fry, 1982). Mentoring is the process that evolves from the formal and informal mentorship relationship and promotes the mentee’s development. The mentor is typically an older wiser and experienced, nurse which guides, nurtures and facilitates the personal, professional and scholarly development of a novice nurse (Arnoldussen, 1990).

Sometimes the term mentorship is used interchangeably with the term preceptorship. In contrast to a mentorship, a preceptorship requires an experienced and competent nurse who senses as a role model and resource person for new nurses. The preceptor functions to orient the new nurse to their roles and responsibilities, formal and informal rules, customs, culture, and norms within a defined organizational structure or workplace (Alspach, 1988). The three primary roles of a preceptor are role model, socializer of new nurse into a workgroup, and educator (Alspach, 1988). The preceptee is typically a student nurse or a newly-hired nurse who is participating in an assigned orientation program. Therefore, a preceptorship is an organized and planned educational program in which a preceptor facilitates the integration of a new nurse into the work setting of an organization (Alspach, 1988 ). Mentorship is a more intense and complex relationship than preceptorship. The complexity and scope of mentorship exceeds preceptorship. Mentorship has a greater breath and depth focusing on the nurse’s development in the quadraparite graduate nursing faculty role; whereas, preceptorship focuses on preparing a nurse for the service worksetting. Mentorship is vital to the success of the quadraparite graduate nursing role and an essential component of faculty development.

The mentoring process occurs within a supportive relationship where there is mutual respect and trust. This relationship framework has been described as a patron system. Table 1 provides this patron system. Each stage of the patron system has specific behaviors that promote mentoring and eventually faculty development. Successful mentorship will facilitate the development of a mentor-protege relationship that considered more collegial.

Development of Mentor-Protege Relationship

The relationship that develops between a mentor and protege evolves through a time and trust dependent developmental process. Prior to the development of this relationship, the mentor and mentee, (future protege) must have frequent and consistent professional interpersonal contact. Through this professional interpersonal contact, the mentor and mentee, within their cultural framework, evaluate their consistency with: professional goals, professional beliefs and values, and knowledge level, and skills. This provides for the compatibility of the mentor and mentee to be determined. Factors that affect the development of a mentor-protege relationship are similar professional values, goals, agreement on strategies to accomplish professional goals, similar professional career ethic, compatible personalities, complimentary specialization areas. Other factors might very well be individual groups of colleagues with some commonalities that link and create an expanded networking community, appreciation and respect.

The mentor identifies the mentee’s limitations and goals, then begins to plan strategies to assist the mentee to overcome their limitations and accomplish their professional goals. This creates a very collegial relationship between the mentor and mentee. Establishment of this collegial relationship is a prerequisite for the transition to mentor-protege relationship. During the development of the mentor-protege relationship, the mentor works with a protege for the purpose of teaching, guiding, supporting, promoting independence, nurturing, challenging, and developing the individual personally and professionally. The protege enters the relationship voluntarily and accepts the guidance and support offered by the mentor. As the protege moves toward goal achievement, the mentoring relationship changes. The mentor-protege become peers who learn from each other. The mentorprotege relationship evolves to the point that the collegial relationship is reciprocal, in that, the mentor and protege assist with each other’s continued personal and professional development. In instances where there is a racially and culturally diverse faculty group mentors may also serve as an advocate and resource for new faculty of color This interaction often enhances understanding, appreciation and respect for cultural differences and cultural competences among the faculty as a whole.

Organizational Structure’s Impact on Faculty Development

Mentoring is a time honored process that must be valued and accommodated within the organizational structure of the institution. Mentoring should be an essential component of each universities faculty development program. Mentoring is the academic responsibilities of graduate faculty and essential for faculty who are not doctorally prepared but teach in graduate nursing programs.

Faculty who participate in mentoring should have organizational support. The essential elements required from the university are time and access to resources. Faculty who actively participate in mentoring should have this recognized as either service to the University or community leadership. The primary focus of the university mission will impact the type of mentoring processes. Brown (1999) developed a guide with mentoring points for mentors and proteges The guide is useful as it reflects how mentoring and the mentoring process can be facilitated within the organizational structure. The Southern Council on Collegiate Education in Nursing (SCCEN) sponsored a Prearranged Mentorship Program to satisfy a regional need for graduate faculty development.

Although the mentorship was prearranged and operated on a long distance basis it was successful (Owens, Herrick & Kelley,1998). The outcomes of the SCCEN project are worthy of consideration especially in graduate programs where graduate faculty members have limited experience in graduate education. Further the SCCEN model provides opportunities for minority faculty to reach out and network beyond their respective institutions.

Resource Identification and Utilization

Often it is through the mentoring process or through the faculty evaluation process that the need for essential resources are identified. Cooperative sharing of limited resources through interdepartmental agreements, university consortiums or academic partnerships increases access to broader and diverse resources for each institution which facilitates faculty development and collegial relationships. The dean, department chair or program director is responsible for identifying resources and gauging utilization dependent upon annual goals set by faculty according to professorial rank. Designation of the faculty’s use of appropriate resources should be based on their professional goals, professorial rank and consistent with university mission. For example, an assistant professor who is doctorally prepared should have access to necessary resources of a novice researcher to develop credentials as a productive researcher, whereas, a doctorally prepared associate professor should have access to resources as a seasoned researcher aspiring to achieve national and international recognition. It is imperative that the dean, department chair or program director allocate these resources dependent upon the congruency of university and departmental mission and philosophy and the achieved professorial rank with the intent to foster faculty development which will facilitate the faculty member’s productivity. Findings from recent research completed by Mc Neal(1998) suggested that telecommunication technologies may play a larger role in productivity among African American women nurse faculty than mentoring, sponsorship and networking. Regardless of the type of resources available, allocation should be provided based on the principle of justice. Allocation of resources based on the need and mission of the university and consistent with professorial rank is consistent with the principle of justice. This is of particular significance for minority faculty conducting research. One of the major problems encountered by minority faculty is their undervalued research especially if it does not focus on mainstream issues (Murray, 1998). Inequities in the allocation of resources further emphasizes the insignificance of research completed by minority faculty.

Orienting faculty to the roles and responsibilities of graduate nursing faculty in the beginning of their appointment is essential to faculty development. Sorcinelli (1994) suggest that providing an orientation might shorten the length of time required for the new faculty to become integrated into their departments as well as provide opportunities for building relationships among new and established faculty. Building of working relationships during the early stages of the faculty appointment might decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness often experienced by faculty of color in a predominately white institution.

Faculty Evaluation: A Component of Faculty Development

Faculty evaluation is an integral part of faculty development and should involve an extensive systematic process. If isolated from faculty development, evaluation becomes a punitive process rather than empowering faculty to move toward their annual goals related to teaching research, service, and community leadership. Faculty evaluation must focus on growth and improving the quality of faculty performance and effectiveness in meeting expectations according to academic rank. The scope and process of faculty evaluation must be clearly delineated and viewed as a cooperative effort among faculty and administrative leaders. A well designed evaluation system will delineate the role of peers, students, administrators in the evaluation process. There must be mutually agreed upon decisions about the type of data to be collected, types of instruments to be used, methods for feedback and the disposition of evaluation data. Inadequate feedback or lack of recognition and rewards can produce stress as well as conflict among nursing colleagues. Sornicelli ( 1994) describes the importance of timely feedback, recognition and rewards in order to reduce stress among new faculty during the faculty evaluation process.

Faculty Development Process

The Faculty development process depends on the manner in which the components of the faculty development program become connected, so that success is almost always the final outcome. Heppner and Johnson (1994) suggest that the academic department administrator, must assert a pivotal role in the faculty development process. These authors suggest that it is the professional and social milieu of the department that will have the most profound effect on faculty productivity and well being. Implicit is the specific responsibility to be assumed by those in leadership/administrative positions, especially deans, department chairs or program directors.

When determining how best to accomplish faculty development, consideration should be given to the organizational structure (simple vs. complex) and the components of the academic role prescribed by the academic institution such as teaching, research, service, and community leadership. Assumptions, group norms, group behavior together with a goal focused program empower faculty to

implement an appropriate faculty development process with specified goals and outcomes that meet the mission of the university and department while maintaining the faculties cultural and racial diversity. The following recommendations are provided as guidelines for cultural and racial sensitivity during the faculty development process (Murray,1998)

The faculty member’s values and beliefs regarding nursing practice and education must be considered within the context of their cultural and racial background.

a The faculty evaluation process and the traditional third year performance review must be designed to evaluate strengths and areas for further growth toward promotion and tenure. Adequate resources must be provided to assist the faculty member toward desired individual and institutional goals.

Minority faculty who are given the impression that they were hired only as the token or to diversify the work environment will become frustrated and begin to doubt their own capabilities. This leads to frustration, job dissatisfaction and finally resignation. Empowerment of such individuals is critical to their successful faculty development process.

Minority faculty who are always asked to represent the department on committees dealing with diversity issues and work with students of the same ethnic background, experience the minority first, scholar second syndrome. This also can lead to dissatisfaction and resignation.

According to Murray (1998) statistics from the National Center for Education reveals that 5 percent of all faculty in colleges and universities are African American, 3% hispanic and 0.4% American Indian/Alaskan Native. With such a small distribution of faculty of color in higher education, institutions must focus on a faculty development process that achieves job satisfaction and retention. Essential components of each phase of the faculty development process are presented in Table 2. These are: individual characteristics inherent in the Individual Enhancement Plan; influential components of the Faculty Development Plan; available resources; and academician roles.

Figure 1 presents a model depicting the interrelationships that exist among the phases of the faculty development process. The major phases that encompass the faculty development process are: individual enhancement plan, faculty development plan, and development of the nurse academician.

Phase I consist of the individual faculty member identifying their personal and professional developmental goals and objectives based on their individual characteristics (teaching experience, clinical experience, educational preparation, personal characteristics, cultural and racial background). These goals and objectives become the faculty member’s Individual Enhancement Plan. Phase II begins with the Dean, department chair, or program director meeting with the individual faculty member to review their Individual Enhancement Plan and to collaboratively establish professional goals for each area of the quadripartite role. It is the academic nurse administrator’s responsibility to ensure that the individual faculty member’s goals and objectives are consistent with the University, College/School, and Program’s mission, goals and objectives and consistent with the academic expectations of the institution for promotion and tenure. An assessment and understanding of the faculty member’s cultural and racial background, teaching and clinical experiences, educational preparation, and personal characteristics will provide direction when establishing faculty development goals. The authors of this model, recommend that this assessment of congruency between the individual’s goals and objectives and the University, College/School, and Program’s mission, goals and objectives be initiated during the interview process for hire. Faculty who are not congruent should be given serious consideration before hiring.

The goals and objectives that are collaboratively established between the individual faculty member and the academic nurse administrator make up the Faculty Development Plan for the individual faculty member. The central component of this model and critical to determining the goals and objectives of the individual Faculty Development Plan is the allocation of available Resources. Necessary resources must be available for faculty utilization if the faculty member is to successfully achieve the quadripartite role commensurate with their academic rank. A written individual Faculty Development Plan will serve as a blueprint for successfully achieving the academician roles and responsibilities as well as serving as a contract for the evaluative process. Additionally, the individual Faculty Development Plan facilitates the academic administrator’s overall departmental planning and budgeting processes.

Evaluation of the Faculty Development Plan should occur annually. Evaluation of the Faculty Development Plan should focus on the achievement of the faculty member’s goals in relation to their academic role and rank. Evaluation of the faculty development plan is not a summative evaluation to be used for meritorious purposes.

The outcomes of a successful graduate faculty development plan and process are faculty who are satisfied in academia and are successful in their roles as a nurse educator, scholar, service provider and community leader, which culminates in Phase III. Also, graduate educators who are satisfied in their academic environment will accentuate cultural diversity and cultural competence within the teaching-learning process; function as a nurse scholar who serves as a role model and conducts research on diverse populations; serves as a minority leader/representative within the university environment and serves as a minority leader within the community while representing the university. Finally, the differentiating factor in this model is the opportunities provided for focusing on the individual’s cultural and racial diversity throughout the faculty development process.


A faculty development process has been presented as an initiative for ensuring cultural and racial diversity among graduate nursing faculty. A Faculty Development Plan has been presented along with a model that illustrates phases of the faculty development process to ensure success of minority faculty in the quadripartite role.


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Cathryn Glanville, EdD, RN, Professor, Nursing, City College, Loyola University, New Orleans, LA; Demetrius Porche, DNS, RN, FNP, CS, CCRN, Associate Professor and Director, Baccalaureate Nursing Program, Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, LA.

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