Enhancing Diversity of Nursing Faculty Using Distance Technology

      Background: Recruitment of faculty to colleges of nursing who represent ethnic, racial, and geographic diversity is critical to preparation of a culturally competent nursing workforce and development of nurse scientists to address issues of health disparities. The lack of doctorally-prepared faculty from minority backgrounds and rural locations prevents realization of this goal. Barriers to pursuit of PhD education are prevalent in minority and rural nurses: family obligations that preclude long commutes or relocation, requirements for full time study, need to maintain employment during doctoral study, lack of geographic access to programs with the desired research focus, and reticence to commit to loan programs to finance doctoral study in light of the faculty salary levels that commonly are less than clinical salaries.
      Purpose: To increase access of culturally and geographically diverse students to doctoral education the University of Utah has implemented a distance doctoral program format to allow students to “educate in place”.
      Methodology: Every course is taught through live, interactive Internet-based videoconferencing to each student's individual site. The part-time program requires nine semesters plus dissertation with 2 to 3 courses per semester. Start-up cost to student for technology is about $300 plus the cost of an up-to-date computer and high speed internet. The greatest cost of the program is the use of bridge technology, which costs about $300 000 to support the videoconferencing
      Findings: Forty-seven students from 22 states have been admitted to the distance PhD program in oncology, gerontology, and non-specialty cohorts. Racial and ethnic diversity of the cohorts ranges from 15-45%. Average time to graduation was 3.7 years compared to 5.8 years for traditional students. Students have secured an unprecedented number of fellowships, awards, and research grants. Student and faculty satisfaction is also higher.
      Summary Concluding Statement: Technology-based education supports development of competent nurse scientists and culturally competent educators.