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April 2008 Issue

Nursing student Maggie Cunningham and a patient at University Hospital.
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New Nursing Program Offered

Published April 2008

Thousands of qualified students are turned away every year from nursing programs across the country because of a lack of faculty to teach them.

To help address this shortage, the College of Nursing is now offering a Clinical Nurse Specialist/Nurse Educator program designed to strengthen
graduate nursing students’ clinical skills as well as train them how to teach.

“Clinical nurse specialists have always been required to teach, but most programs don’t really train them what to teach and how to teach,” says program director Robin Dennison, DNP.

According to Dennison, clinical nurse specialists (CNS) have multiple roles. They may be direct care givers for patients with complex health care issues, serve as consultants and teachers to other staff, lead change at an institution and conduct research.

“Nurse practitioners are often only involved in direct patient care whereas clinical nurse specialists look at an entire system and try
to make it work better,” Dennison says.

“For example, they might be in charge of major changes at an institution such as the implementation of computerized charts.”

In addition to preparing students for the roles of a clinical nurse specialist, the program prepares them to be nurse educators.

“Our CNS program is different from most in that we help them develop clinical expertise and teaching expertise. Students become content experts and are trained how to teach that content,” says Dennison.

The program’s nurse educator component allows a graduate to work clinically but also provides the teaching skills necessary to be an instructor in a hospital or an academic setting.

Dennison says many clinical faculty, including those at UC, only have bachelor’s of science degrees.

“This program is a great opportunity for them to enhance their teaching skills and earn a master’s degree.”

As a full-time student, the master’s program can be completed in five quarters. It takes about three years to complete part time.
Students can learn in class or online through live feeds and archived videos.

“What’s great about our program is that students can come to class and interact in person with the instructor when it fits into their schedule or they can learn the material online,” says Dennison.

“The program is versatile—you can be a nursing leader and change agent within an institution and you can teach students as well as other nursing staff.”

For more information, contact Dennison at (513) 558-5220 or 

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