Challenges Facing Nursing Education in the Advanced Healthcare Setting

March 7, 2023

What is the importance of nursing education for a 21st-century nurse? Continuing education has become the inevitable consequence of advancements in the healthcare industry. With new technologies being introduced in medical science, nurses must continue harnessing their academic expertise. In the United States, authorities have been attempting to make BSN a mandatory qualification for all RNs since 1964. The National Academy of Medicine (then known as the Institute of Medicine) had announced in 2010 that 80% of nursing practitioners should acquire a BSN degree by 2020. Fortunately, 57% of RNs today have at least a BSN degree. But they’re expected to keep improving their know-how.

Exploring the Challenges in Nursing Education

However, specific challenges restrict the educational progress of American nurses. These restrictions have prevented several RNs from pursuing ideal learning, especially during the recent pandemic. But, before we explore these problems, let’s discuss why removing these obstacles will benefit the future of nursing in the United States. We know that a lack of knowledge may lead to mistakes that harm people’s health. Education ensures nurses perform their duties effectively with the right skills and methods.

Today, merely 14% of RNs hold a doctorate as their highest qualification. Now, what is a DNP program, and how is it beneficial for nurses? This medical practice degree ascertains that nurses are trained in the most advanced healthcare setting with specific qualities associated with this doctorate. So, it improves care delivery, helps RNs earn more, and enables them to take up leadership and research-based roles. But specific challenges – as stated above – hinder a nurse’s journey to acquire a DNP degree. We’ll mention some of these issues:

1. No Interdisciplinary Training

We’ve observed that primary caregivers have a poor understanding of their responsibilities and insufficient interdisciplinary training. These barriers prevent nurses from creating integrated teams and functioning effectively in healthcare settings. Therefore, RNs must train to collaborate effectively with their colleagues and polish their understanding of inter-professional healthcare practices.  As a result, this training will result in improved patient outcomes and reduced healthcare expenditures.

2. Insufficient Cultural Diversity

In the face of globalization and the rising growth of immigrants/minorities, it has become essential to enhance cultural diversity in educational programs. Diversity enables educators to improve student learning, so they must consider teaching RNs from different backgrounds as an academic adventure. It might seem challenging to accommodate the requirements of diverse students. However, it’s no more than a cognitive obstacle some educators are unwilling to cross in favor of racial minorities.

3. Unpleasant Atmosphere

Harassment, discrimination, or negligence often disturb the environment in the academy. Students feel annoyed and frustrated when doctors/nurses neglect their presence. In some studies, respondents have complained that medical students are treated favorably, but nursing students are paid no regard. It makes nursing students less motivated to continue learning. Hence, it is necessary to rectify this situation immediately to improve the learning environment for RNs.

4. Improper Treatment of RNs

Some students believe that educators don’t treat them fairly and demonstrate aggression towards the nurse. In one study, a nursing student retold how an instructor once reprimanded them right before the patient’s companion that made them never trust that student again. Such interactions are enough to demotivate someone and disillusion a nursing student from pursuing education due to the sheer fear of getting bullied. Instructors must display respectful behavior towards nurses.

5. Financial Challenges of RNs

It affects both educators and students. As per BLS, nurses make over $75,000 annually on average. A 2017 survey shows that 40% of the nursing facility in Washington was dissatisfied with their income. Also, 15% of post-graduate educational programs for RNs have identified the costs of the programs as a significant obstacle for potential students. These programs’ locations also prevent those nurses who have a family to support. These financial barriers stop nurses from pursuing their academic goals further.

6. Facing an Inferiority Complex

Even well-experienced nurses become stressed sometimes and overwhelmed by this new academic experience. This inferiority complex remains even when highly qualified RNs pursue education. This academic stress hinders their ability to learn. Studies show that this inferiority complex was more dominant among females nursing students. Nurses pursuing a DNP may even suffer from a false perception of intellectual inferiority that can become a problem for them in clinical settings.

7. Student’s Hesitation to Learn

Some participants in educational programs show what we call “insufficient self-confidence” or their hesitation to engage in academic pursuits. The absence of readiness among nurses to improve their academic expertise disturbs the process of learning. RNs sometimes disbelieve in their capability to master the course and refrain from volunteering. Others lack the necessary knowledge to pursue an education course. So, nurses must be trained to hone their self-confidence to remove this hurdle.

8. Incompetent Educators Teaching

Inexperienced and incompetent educators often fail to spark confidence among their students and teach lessons ineffectively. They don’t teach RNs how to undertake medical procedures properly or teach other patients about their healthcare. Such educators are also guilty of not asking students for feedback. As a result, nurses can’t measure the correctness of their practices. The negligence of educators leads to RNs receiving low-quality training that doesn’t enhance their medical acumen. Because of this, there’s a need for more nurses to get advanced degrees, like from UT Arlington, in order to become nurse educators and train nursing students to become competent nurses.

9. Deficient Practical Skills

In some cases, RNs have shown their inability to perform basic surgical procedures. This lack of essential and crucial hinders nurses from pursuing advanced education. For instance, some nursing students have admitted how they failed to take a patient’s blood pressure correctly. In advanced healthcare settings, nurses make even more unforgivable blunders that reveal their deficient practical skillset! It upsets instructors to help those RNs advance in their education who have forgotten past lessons.

10. Aligning Education with Practice

Finally, the courses taught to nurses pursuing advanced education must align with the goals of our rapidly accelerating medical institutions. Several factors will reshape this field, including aging nurses, globalized healthcare, more pandemics, advances in medicine, and emerging areas of knowledge. It will benefit a nurse to learn the contemporary skills RNs are supposed to possess. An education that doesn’t help a nurse advance in our current medical scenario is in itself a major obstacle to progress.


The challenges we outlined above aren’t exclusive to the United States. Studies conducted in Cameroon have also produced similar results. As per a study, over 46% of nurses experience a lack of interest and preparedness in clinical learning. Other obstacles to higher education include nurses’ dissatisfaction with supervisors, no orientation before placement, and a lack of basic know-how about the medical field. Different factors are responsible for why RNs encounter problems in their educational sessions. They include a shortage of incentives, ineffective medical policies, and no career advancement opportunities for nurses. Eliminating these factors will motivate more RNs to pursue higher education.

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