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Patricia Starck, DSNDeanUniversity of Texas School of Nursing at HoustonPatricia Starck, dean of The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston, has devised an unconventional solution to the nursing faculty shortage: Recruit retired physicians as classroom instructors. More than 20 retired doctors from the local Retired Physicians Organization taught labs this summer, and eight more have signed up for the fall. Starck explains how the program fills a hole at the nursing school and gives first-year nursing students early exposure to physician relations.

Starck: We don't have a nursing faculty shortage. We have a shortage of qualified nurses who are willing to work for faculty salaries when the hospitals are paying so well. The RPO is an excellent source of the type of faculty that we want: those who are wise, experienced, eager to help students, and very committed. The physicians teach in the physical assessment lab. Students are taught to do a head-to-toe physical exam and take a history. The physicians are there to help them do the exam correctly. We also use iPods for the lectures and a lot of video. From their very first semester, students are having dialogue with physicians. They are learning to communicate, and they are learning not to be intimidated. They learn the information a physician wants if they need to call a physician in the middle of the night. We think that's one of the best aspects of the program-this interdisciplinary education. -Molly Rowe