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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 57-62

Factors motivating nurses to transition from clinical to academic education

Department of Nursing, Applied Medical Sciences, Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia

Date of Submission08-May-2021
Date of Acceptance05-Jul-2021
Date of Web Publication31-Jul-2021

Correspondence Address:
Ahmed S AlKarani
Department of Nursing, Applied Medical Sciences, Taif University, Taif
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/KKUJHS.KKUJHS_20_21

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Background: Around the world, there are some problems facing nursing education and production of new nurses; one of the problems is a shortage of qualified nurse faculty members. Objectives: The objectives of the study are (1) to explore factors motivated Saudi nurses working at nursing faculties to transition from clinical practice to academy and (2) to clarify the challenges of the transition into nursing colleges at universities. Subjects and Methods: This was a descriptive, qualitative study. A semi-structured interview was implemented with nine lecturers from four Saudi Universities. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: This study publicized three themes from the experience of Saudi nurses moving from clinical practice to academy: appealing factors in academic work, including four subthemes; factors that helped integrate into academic work, including two subthemes; and factors that contributed to the transition from clinical practice to academy, including two subthemes. Conclusion: Searching for change, continuing postgraduate studies, academic social life, and a positive academic work environment are common factors motivating nurses to transfer from clinical bedside nursing care into academic teaching.

Keywords: Academy teaching,s clinical practice, education, nursing, transition

How to cite this article:
AlKarani AS, Ibrahem AA. Factors motivating nurses to transition from clinical to academic education. King Khalid Univ J Health Sci 2021;6:57-62

How to cite this URL:
AlKarani AS, Ibrahem AA. Factors motivating nurses to transition from clinical to academic education. King Khalid Univ J Health Sci [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 May 27];6:57-62. Available from: https://www.kkujhs.org/text.asp?2021/6/1/57/322878

  Introduction Top

Around the world, there are some problems facing nursing education and production of new nurses; one of the problems is a shortage of qualified nurse faculty members.[1] In Saudi Arabia, there are about 30 faculties of nursing, some of which are governmental, while others are private. The number of students enrolling in nursing is growing globally.[1] Therefore, it puts a great onus on nursing education leaders to provide brilliant, young teaching staff. The request of the Saudi health sector for nurses is predicted it be greater than twofold by 2030, which means about 150,000 nursing positions should be available by 2030, with an estimated nearly 10,000 new nurses to graduate annually to fulfill this need without foreign assistance.[2] Although education and nursing are different professions,[3] nurses are prepared to fill multiple tasks and roles. Some nurses prefer to stay in clinical field up to the retirement, others favoring to change education in nursing faculties. Nursing education is the starting point of nursing occupation. To be a nurse educator, you have to be competent in both nursing and education professions.[4] As a part of their professional range of practice, nurses are anticipated to manage, educate, and assess others in the clinical setting.[5] The COVID-19 pandemic clearly explores the demand for qualified young nurses; therefore, the upcoming nursing workforce relies greatly on the provision of enough well-prepared competent nursing faculty members who are interested in the academic field.[6] Thus, expert clinical nurses are required[7] to join nursing faculties to pass their comprehensive clinical skills to nursing students at undergraduate level. Teaching is attractive for nurses seeking to share their clinical experiences with nursing students.[6] However, clinicians who are experts in clinical practice, are considered as beginners in the academic field due to the huge difference between clinical and academic roles.[8] In addition to these, achieving an academic nurse's role will require not only clinical experience but also lecturing and classroom preparation, research and student supervision, and other academic duties.[9] Experienced clinical nurses suited to the academic field sometimes encounter the fundamentals of the education process.[10] Sometimes, they face a lot of challenges.[1],[8],[11] To overcome these challenges, novice nurse educators transitioning into higher education teaching will require support from their colleagues' and faculties' administration.[12],[13] Nurses who did not receive support or official preparedness in academic environment will undergo worry and vagueness role.[14]

There are some motivational factors that contribute to transitioning of clinical expert nurses to education field in nursing faculties; therefore, this study aims to explore these motivational factors that encourage nurses to change their career to academic education.

  Subjects and Methods Top

This study used a descriptive qualitative study design, and it was reviewed and approved by the Research Ethics Committee of Taif University, Saudi Arabia (application code: 42-0088), and the data were collected between January 2021 and February 2021.

The study details and its aims were announced on all social media, and nurses who were transferred to work at the university instead of their previous work were invited to participate. Nine staff from four different nursing colleges in Saudi universities participated in a semi-structured interview. They understood that their participation was voluntarily in the study. In-depth semi-structured interviews were used to explore the factors that motivated them to transition to nursing faculties from clinical practice and to clarify the challenges of the transition into nursing colleges at universities. The durations of the interview were 45–60 min with the participants. Interviews were in Arabic language as the participants requested. All interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed in Arabic using thematic analysis. Then, it was translated into English by the main author, and then, the data were verified by the second author. After that, each interview was reviewed by both researchers. The reliability, confirmability, and transferability of this study were established. The researchers had ensured to summarize the responses offered by participants to make sure that the meaning was correct. Thus, the transcripts and coding were reviewed by both researchers to make sure nothing was neglected. Both researchers evaluated data and agreed to the five themes of this study together.

  Results Top

In this study, we enrolled nine faculty members who transferred from nursing clinical practice to work at the university. One of the participants holds a Bachelor's degree in nursing, five of them hold a Master's degree in nursing, and the rest of them hold a PhD degree. Participants working experience and their details are presented in [Table 1].
Table 1: Characteristics of participants, Taif, Saudi Arabia, 2021

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The results revealed three themes: appealing factors in academic work, including an admiration of teaching, getting the advantage of continuing postgraduate studies, academic social life, the variety of university work; factors that helped integrate into academic work, including gaining teaching experience from previous work and a positive academic work environment; and factors that contributed to the transition from clinical practice to academy, including workload in clinical practice and gaining experience and feeling the routine and searching for change.

Theme 1: Appealing factors in academic work

Admiration of teaching

Preferring working in the field of teaching was the strong factor for a group of participants, where a large number of participants joined the training centers at their previous work, and they found the appropriate opportunity to move to training and educating students at university level. They considered that educating students is a distinct and easier process than teaching nurses in clinical area, as quoted below:

“I used to work in nursing training center in the Ministry of Health. Also, I participated in a full semester in teaching health college students as collaborated lecturer and I liked this experience. This experience inspired me, and I admired working in teaching students more than training employees. Why? Because with the students, you establish a basic knowledge, but with nursing staff, sometimes, it is difficult to convince them. That is why I stepped into the nearest opportunity to transfer to the environment that I like, and I work in teaching students at university. Praise be to God.” (Participant 8)

“When I was in, I mean, in the beginning of my work as a nurse, I worked in ICU and in CCU. After that, I worked as a clinical instructor in the hospital. From here, I liked bedside teaching. I liked the field of training, in general. After that, I started teaching life support BLS, ACLS. So, I was instructor in both sides, Saudi Arabia and the American Heart Association. From this point, the passion appeared in the university. I cooperated with the private college. All these things led me to university.” (Participant 3)

“I used to work in CCU, ICU and I admired teaching the staff, and patients especially, since I became registered nurse. I also gave health education for all patients. So, I felt this desire since the days I was a student.” (Participant 2)

Getting the advantage of continuing postgraduate studies

One of the features that characterizes the university environment is forcing its employees to continue their postgraduate studies by supporting them financially and emotionally. [Table 1] shows that four participants hold MSN for more than 2 years (which is unusual in universities). This procedure constitutes an attraction for everyone who works outside universities and wishes to complete the educational career such as Master's and PhD degrees and returns to work as a faculty member at the university, as quoted below:

“Look, the factors are many, but let me put the first one for me, of course, the scholarship opportunities in Saudi universities are better than the Ministry of Health. Second thing, I had many questions on the clinical side and I did not know the answers and I did not know how to deal with them. I mean, I discovered that the best solution is to be up-to-date and work on research. The opportunities to participate in research or work in research are in universities. This is one of the main reasons that let me move to the academic.” (Participant 1)

“Many factors, including the ease of obtaining postgraduate studies, which is the most important and best point. After that also, freedom of faculty members' movement and production. In my previous work, the work was limited to the daily routine and did not require much intellectual effort, but rather a lot of physical effort. In working at the university, especially for those who love to teach, they can offer other additional things, such as working with students, working with community service, working through scientific research and other things.” (Participant 8)

“The first incentive was that it means they force you to study outside the country. I mean you take a certificate! I mean taking scholarship. I mean, this thing is not easy in the Ministry of Health. You know why? Because it has a competitor, and it has conditions, and it has requests and it means a long-term process. Other than that, in the university, in terms of working hours, the environment, meaning there is no workload like the Ministry of Health, so these were the reasons that left me and urged me to transfer to the university.” (Participant 5)

Academic social life

A number of participants believed that the work environment plays a big role in a person's social life. Moreover, working in clinical nursing does not allow enough time to enjoy social meetings and family visits or even serving the community but only allows a time to prepare for the next shift. Therefore, when nurses from clinical side compared their life to the academics' social life, they found that they had the opportunity to transfer to university and they did their best to do that, as quoted below:

“I used to see many academics who have wide social relations in society. They act as a role model in society forums and meetings. They also contributed their time to a prominent role in society. All this affected me, especially when you see that you have an opportunity to move to academic work. You need some efforts and some procedures. The society, by its nature, sees where interest is and then builds the relationships, whether with the nurse on the bedside or academic side.” (Participant 9)

“Social life really was a lot different. I used to work for 12 h. I mean, it took about 14 h from my time in my work. Then, I would go home and I could not make the balance between my husband, with my friends, or even family gathering. As for the academic, as you see from eight in the morning to two in the afternoon. And then, the whole day will be free in how to spend it, in addition to the weekend.” (Participant 1)

“I swear to God, there are important reasons as from the side of society. The society sees you as a PhD holder and an academic, I mean there is appreciation for you in society and higher respect than work in practice. Even more, the time will be yours. I mean in the hospital it is difficult to take the vacations in your exact time because all staff want the same time too like Ramadan.” (Participant 6)

The variety of university work

All participants showed enthusiasm in nursing work, whether in clinical or academic work, but none of them liked routine work. The majority of them like a variety of tasks, and they look for challenges. Therefore, they see that academic work has greater freedom and wider areas, such as searching for up-to-date information, working in teaching, community service, doing research and other stuff. Moreover, all these are strong factors in their choice to move into the academic field, as quoted below:

“I swear to God, the work at the clinic or in the practice you just admitted new patients and discharged old patients, and by the end of the day, your work is completely finished; while in academic work, you possibly go with your students to hospitals, you may give them lectures, you can work in research, meaning the options are more and much better than working in practice.” (Participant 1)

“The nurses who work in the clinical side are doing routine work every day: work in patient care and the whole work is in a hospital environment. But, the academic work is improving student knowledge, and the lecturer or the instructor or faculty member at the university is concerned about the students. I swear to God, the difference is big between patients and students. Moreover, in academic, you have the opportunity to develop the subjects, education materials, and even the student's curriculum. This is what I really appreciate!” (Participant 4)

“I liked the academic side, I loved it a lot. I like when I have something that makes me look for up-to-date knowledge in order to give it to students. This is one of the things that changed my direction from the practice to academy side. From a personal perspective, to be in academy, you know your time for the lecture, and you have the time throughout the week which allows me to search on a daily basis that I read things before I start the lecture, I mean, even on the personal side, I developed a lot of skills and knowledge.” (Participant 2)

Theme 2: Factors that helped integrate into academic work

Gaining teaching experience from previous working

Participants expressed that they were struggling at the early stages of their academic career. Those struggles mostly involved a lack of knowledge about the university's rules and regulations and the university computer program. They stated that those struggles did not last for long with the support they received from their academic colleagues, and most of them already had a certain level of knowledge in education systems and the education process. Those experiences have gained them knowledge on how to work with students and how the educational system operates, as quoted below:

“The truth is, when I started my academic career, I was shocked because they were several lists of rules and regulations that I am not familiar with. The first list presented regulations about dealing with students, the second list contained regulations on the student education process, and there were many others. I was surprised because I had no idea about it. In fact, I was able to overcome them by time with my colleagues' support. Regarding the teaching process and dealing with students, I had no problems because I worked for some time at the training and scholarship program center at the Ministry of Health.” (Participant 8)

“I worked in the educational and training center in the hospital for almost 2 years. At that time, I was responsible for all intern and nursing students; thus, I did not face difficulties when I moved to university on teaching, training, or evaluation because that is what I was responsible for working in the hospital education center, not to mention that all my academic co-workers are very cooperative.” (Participant 5)

A positive academic work environment

Many participants considered the academic work environment to be a good one. They also mentioned the positive impact of a good work environment on their productivity and innovation. They mentioned that academics can plan and work without justification to anyone, as the responsibility is to teach. In addition, there are many advantages in working as an academic, such as being able to take a vacation easily without schedule and others, as quoted below:

“Clinical work need continues care and attention for the patient as well as constant follow-ups. In the other side, the academic workplace is less busy. You have scheduled lectures and might be prepared in advance in vacation or weekend periods. But also, you have a large number of students that need continuous care and checking their homework; also you need to measure their improvement from time to time.” (Participant 9)

“Well, there are huge differences between working in clinical training and working as an academic. Working in nurses' training requires time, effort, and preparation because nurses already have the basic knowledge, they come to develop and gain new skills, so they are expecting what I teach to meet their requirements. Otherwise, what you teach students is more enjoyable because you teach them fundamental information. Students will stay with you for years; you will observe their progress improvement in person and how what they learned from you helped in their growth.” (Participant 8)

Theme 3: Factors that contributed to the transition from clinical practice to academy

Workload in clinical practice

All participants agreed that workload in clinical practices had a major role in the transition from the clinical side to the academic. Continuity of workload with increased responsibilities toward patients and many others factors, such as shortage of staff and work coverage in different departments, all influenced the decision of the participants not to continue working on the clinical side in the long term. Moreover, the comparison of workload between clinical work and academic work motivated the nurses in the clinical side to look for any opportunity to transition to academy, as quoted below:

“A clinical nurse is always under pressure; you know when you work at bedside in nursing, it is something different. I was working in ICU, so all the work was like what you say came suddenly. For example, you have an emergency situation, and this means a lot of responsibilities and more pressure on you! Oh, it is more different than from academic work at the university in which there are lectures in which you have enough time to prepare yourself for the thing in front of you, but in clinical practice, we do not have this.” (Participant 5)

“Look, I worked at ICU as a bedside nurse and at bedside in ER. I see one of the most important problems that nurses are suffering from, which is the workload and the issue of the nursing shortages in hospitals. I mean I still remember we used to work OHHH. A lot of pressure, high effort in the emergency, you have to cover the ER and make observations on your own. You have six beds, and you have, for example, 12 patients standing on your head. This patient is an ECG, and the other patient X-ray, lab and this is such and this is such.” (Participant 3)

“The nurses have long and hard work hours. Think about this issue: I mean you know that we have duties to our family, the house, the children, and these things have all led nurses to change department or even the hospital. For example, the intensive care or ER, in general, needs effort from nurses and these lead to nurse fatigue. So, by the end of the day, you can do nothing with your life! I mean you have not enough energy. In fact, there was no real time for social life outside the hospital.” (Participant 2)

Gaining experience, feeling the routine, and searching for change

The majority of the participants concluded that the nurses in the clinical practice, with frequent occurrence of cases, enhanced their nursing skills. Hence, they acquired a saturation of skills and information related to the aspect of nursing care, and thus, the work became in continuous routine repetition, which caused them boredom and made them think about looking for change and what leads them to information or new skills, as quoted below:

“Frankly, when I worked in the medical ward, I felt that the work is routine. I repeated the same routine every day. Every day! same thing, in the same place and sometimes same patient. This means that I will not learn any new things. Actually, I found myself that the longer I stay in the hospital, I lose more information, frankly because I am doing a routine work!” (Participant 7)

“I swear to God, I am one of the people who do feel that I am satisfied with my skilled and experience as nurse in the hospital. So, I transferred from the practical side to the academic. This is one point, and the second one, I also feel that education is something new to me and I feel that I can contribute to it” (Participant 4)

“By God, there is a differ. Of course, when I completed my PhD, I saw a difference between professional work and academic work in many aspects. Know I was encouraged by being more academic, such as focusing on research in which there are new things not like the routine work.” (Participant 6)

  Discussion Top

This article is considered to be the first one highlighting and discussing the reasons made by expert clinical nurses to transfer to academic education in Saudi Arabia. To teach a nurse you have to be a nurse, therefore, moving from clinical practice to teach new nurses in the faculties or nursing institution will guarantee and assure the continuity of the nursing profession. Thus, transitioning from hospitals to education is encouraging.

The findings of our study clarified many factors that encouraged, accelerated, and contributed to the shift of nurses from direct patient care to academic life in universities. This majorly includes the admiration of teaching in academic settings. Furthermore, participants have perceived teaching in education settings as an easy process. This is supported by the study of Andersen[15] where it is believed that stress and dissatisfaction occur more frequently in clinical practice compared to teaching in academic settings. Likewise, Evans[16] concluded that nurses educated in academia felt that teaching was enjoyable and gratifying. In addition to these, it was considered to be one of the biggest factors that attracted them to academic education. Moreover, in line with the findings of this study, most participants felt that teaching in academia was interesting and distinct.[16] There are some variations in the nature of clinical practice and teaching in academic institutions.[17]

Desire in education, attainment, and opportunity to continue studies and having a doctoral in nursing sciences were highlighted. These findings are also highlighted in the study of Mentes and Phillips[18] where nurses had described that the opportunity to accomplish a doctorial in nursing as a once in a life-time opportunity. Furthermore, according to Farahaninia et al.,[19] the majority of nurses working in clinical practice have a moderate social life, in general. The reason is explained by workload and spending greater time in clinical practice than their private life.[20] However, this study found that the social life of the university professors in education settings allows people to have more of a social life compared to working in clinical practice. Agreeing with this finding, Agha et al.[21] had highlighted that the dissatisfaction in the workplace was mostly caused by the work/social life imbalance.

The traits of university work styles, the opportunity of teaching experience acquisition, and the enthusiastic academic work environment were main factors that motivated the participants to change their career from nursing to education. Workload in clinical practice and feeling the routine and searching for change were other factors leading the participants to leave the bedside and transfer to academic teaching.

In relation to the nature of work, all participants reported that working in clinical practice was loaded and stressed, and they thought that working in faculties was less stressful. This fact is contradicted with the results cited by Boamah et al.,[22] in which they mentioned that working in academia was loaded and took too many working hours and was considered one of the main factors leading the faculty nurses to leave their field.

Nurses who transfer from clinical to higher education are rich in clinical experience. However, some of them lack aspects of teaching competencies.[1] On the other hand, Lazzari et al.[23] stated that teaching competencies can be earned.

  Conclusion Top

Searching for change, continuing postgraduate studies, academics' social life, and a positive academic work environment are common factors motivating nurses to transfer from clinical bedside nursing care into academic teaching. Recruitment of nurses from clinical practice, particularly those who have clinical instructor experience, to teach new nurses in faculties is encouraged. Although nurses working in clinical practice lack teaching experience, they bring practical skills to nursing faculties.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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