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New Faculty Orientation

Background

The appointment of a new full-time faculty member represents the culmination of a thoughtful process that involves many individuals. Thus, when the individual arrives as a member of the faculty community, an investment has already been made, and the school looks forward to welcoming the new colleague. It is critical at this point that the orientation of that individual is comprehensive, well-organized and inclusive of a wide range of components that will help her/him be successful in the new appointment. This is as important for faculty who are experienced and have taught elsewhere as it is for those who are new to the faculty role, as the position will be implemented in a new environment with its own history, culture and priorities.

The importance of a strong orientation for new faculty has received significant attention in recent literature, which notes the importance of acknowledging and attending to the fact that individuals who assume a faculty position for the first time are making a work-role transition from that of expert clinician to that of novice academic educator. The orientation of new faculty – whether they are new to the role or experienced in it – is strengthened by attending to the competencies expected of academic nurse educators and ensuring that individuals are capable of fulfilling those competencies. Additionally, faculty benefit from assistance with prioritizing their many competing demands and formulating plans to meet the multiple demands of the role while still achieving their personal and professional goals.

Development of DUSON’s Orientation Program for New Faculty

Throughout its history, the Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON) has been committed to orienting new faculty in a way that will help them successfully make the transition to a new position. To achieve this goal, DUSON refined its orientation program in 2009. The framework for the program now includes the following elements:

  • Self-assessments
  • Focused meetings with key individuals in the School and University
  • A comprehensive resource manual
  • A series of ongoing monthly meetings
  • Faculty guides
  • Clarification of the responsibilities the new faculty member has throughout the orientation program

The orientation program is revised as needed, based on evaluative feedback.

The Self-Assessments

Prior to beginning employment, each new faculty member is asked to rate her/himself regarding expertise in each area of nurse educator competence (and accompanying task statements) using the Self-Assessment of Nurse Educator Competencies questionnaire. For faculty who are not nurses, the Self-Assessment of Educator Competencies questionnaire is used. These documents reflect the nurse educator competencies developed and disseminated by the National League for Nursing [Halstead, J. (2007). Nurse educator competencies. New York, NY: National League for Nursing.] and are used with the permission of that professional association.

The educator competencies self-assessment is reviewed with the IEE Director and the individual’s Pedagogical Guide (see below) so the orientation can be individualized and address areas of greatest concern to the new faculty member.

The Guides

Each new faculty member is provided with seasoned faculty who volunteer to invest time – in a deliberate way – to help new faculty transition to their new role and environment. Those seasoned faculty are referred to as guides, and a complete outline of the responsibilities of each is provided. Generally, the responsibilities are as follows:

  • Culture Guide. This individual is expected to help new faculty understand the culture of DUSON and the University and how things work.
  • Pedagogical Guide. This individual is expected to help new faculty with their teaching responsibilities.
  • Research Mentor. This individual is expected to guide tenure track and research track faculty with their program of research.
  • Scholarship Guide. This individual is expected to help practice track faculty with their scholarly endeavors.

Support for the Culture, Pedagogical and Scholarship Guides is provided by the Director of the Institute for Educational Excellence. Research Mentors are supported by the School’s Center for Nursing Research.

The Ongoing Meetings

As a way to ensure that new faculty remain “connected” with one another and with the orientation program, each individual is expected to participate in a meeting each month during the first four to six months of employment. These meetings are facilitated by members of the IEE Advisory Board and may have a designated focus (e.g., governance, workload, student/faculty relationships) or be open to whatever questions/issues the new faculty wish to discuss.