nursing schoolIt doesn’t take a PhD to understand the supply-and-demand forces behind the nationwide shortage of doctoral faculty. It does take a PhD—lots of them, actually--to close that gap.

The trick is turning PhD graduates into stronger faculty candidates on the day they’re handed a diploma. “Typically, around 70-80 percent of the PhD graduates enter into the academe arena after graduation, but too many don’t know how to teach,” says Pamela R. Jeffries, PhD, RN, FAAN, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON).

That’s the quandary behind the Preparing Future Faculty Teaching Academy, brainchild of a strategic partnership led by Jeffries and Candice Dalrymple, PhD, and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Educational Resources. Their initiative was one of eight winners of the 2013 Johns Hopkins PhD Innovation Award, an initiative “seeking new ideas to advance doctoral education and training through the next century.”

“Competition for faculty positions in higher education grows more intense each year,” reads the Jeffries-Dalrymple proposal, adding that the Academy will “better prepare Johns Hopkins doctoral students for their roles as future faculty” and “supplement departmental recruitment efforts with enriched professional development opportunities that may help them to attract the most promising PhD students.”

With the Academy, Jeffries says, “We plan to broaden their knowledge base and teaching skills while they’re still working on their PhDs.”

Each year, 50 PhDs will be enrolled in the Academy, a collaborative interdisciplinary effort across seven degree-granting divisions of the University: the schools of Nursing, Engineering, Education, Medicine, Public Health, Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and Arts and Sciences.

As the program gets off the ground, the plan is for the schools of Johns Hopkins to use its best-qualified graduates to restock their own PhD faculties as well as sending teachers with great potential off into the higher education world. Jeffries knows it won’t be an immediate fix-all for the PhD faculty shortage, but it’s about turning the trend. She thinks the Preparing Future Faculty Teaching Academy can do just that. “There’s a mentorship aspect, and they have to do actual teaching, whether online or face to face, in a large or small classroom, or perhaps in a laboratory or clinical setting. Many of the PhD Preparing Future Faculty participants will  get hooked and feel the passion and rewards of teaching and scholarship.”

Learn more about the PhD program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.