South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday May 18, 2021
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November 2004 - Volume 1 - Issue 4
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Barry University Dean Pegge Bell Joins Florida Center for Nursing Board, Advocates for Nursing Faculty

Pegge Bell, Ph.D., R.N., Dean of the School of Nursing at Barry University, has been appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to serve on the Board of Directors of the Florida Center for Nursing. Dean Bell will serve a two-year term with the Center, which was created by the Florida legislature four years ago to help the state prepare to meet the future health care needs of residents through more effective recruitment and utilization of nursing workforce resources. The Center is developing strategies to manage issues of nurse recruitment, retention and distribution of the workforce and Dr. Bell will bring the perspective of the nursing education community to the FCN.

The country’s critical need for nurses is becoming more widely acknowledged and is gaining attention as a matter of serious concern to health care organizations and the federal and state governments, but one aspect of the shortage that has been overlooked is the shortage of nursing school faculty. According to Dean Bell, half of all current nursing school faculties will retire within ten years – and there are not nearly enough numbers of nurses going into nursing education to replace them. In fact, last year, BSN programs across the United States turned down 11,000 applicants simply because of faculty shortages.

Dean Bell, with many years of experience in the field of academic nursing, is enthusiastic about this particular career direction and believes that nurses are failing to realize the rewards and satisfactions of teaching.

"Many of the nurses who go to graduate school find nurse practitioner programs more appealing than a nursing education program," she claims. "They like the advanced clinical role and the independence. But teaching is so exciting; there’s nothing quite like seeing the light bulbs come on when a student grasps a new concept. There’s nothing quite like hearing from someone that you taught 20 years ago and hearing them say that they were inspired by you. Teaching provides an opportunity to have an enormous impact, to affect the quality of the care that your students will give throughout their careers and to affect their values.

"Unfortunately, nursing has not marketed the role of the faculty nearly enough and, with hospitals giving staff nurses more and more incentives to remain there, we are seeing dwindling numbers of nurses who want to teach. Nursing schools are really hurting."

With her extensive experience in the academic realm, Dr. Bell is well qualified to speak about the pros and cons of becoming a nurse educator. She acknowledges that it is a demanding role. "You have a lot of responsibility. You have to teach in the classroom and lab plus directly supervise students on clinical experiences. You have a great deal of scholarship work, if you are on a tenure track. You have to do research and publish, just as in the schools of engineering, law or any other. In addition, you have to identify a way to keep yourself clinically competent and current. Many nurse educators, instead of taking the summer off, work as staff nurses all summer in order to keep their skills sharp."

But clearly, for Dr. Bell, these aspects of teaching are outweighed by the rewards and she encourages nurses who are planning to go to graduate school to consider nursing education. "A nurse educator has a huge impact on the students. You influence their clinical and professional standards. Students never forget their instructors and teachers. They will come back to us later to say, ‘You taught me what it means to be a nurse.’ It is so gratifying."

A nursing career, in any specialty, is filled with opportunity, Dr. Bell says. She tells nursing students that their careers can grow as their imaginations do. "Nurses are doing so many things now. Our skills translate to so many areas. Nurses are highly skilled at problem-solving, critical thinking, time management, resource management and communication. Nurses are becoming entrepreneurs, consultants, practitioners – there are so many directions to consider," she says.

Dr. Bell is a native of Alabama who attended nursing school at Columbus College in Georgia. She received her BSN from Georgia Southwest College and her master’s from the University of Alabama. She specialized in maternal-child nursing and eventually received her doctorate from the University of Virginia. Prior to joining Barry University in 2002, Dr. Bell was Associate Dean for graduate programs for the College of Nursing at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

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