04 – Be Bold: A Journey of the First MSN-Nurse Educator Track in Saudi Arabia towards Quality, Excellence, and Making a Change in Nursing Education

Be Bold: A Journey of the First MSN-Nurse Educator Track in Saudi Arabia towards Quality, Excellence, and Making a Change in Nursing Education

Written by Benjamin Joel Breboneria, DNS, MA, MSN, RN, CNE, NEA-BC, MSN Program Director/Coordinator

A good nursing program known for its quality and excellence is considered to be a vital component of an effective and competitive healthcare system; any nursing program has this innate ability to impart to its students the necessary advanced knowledge and expertise in the nursing field that then allows it to take a leap forward towards advancement. This can facilitate the development of the healthcare system and impact the society in a multitude of ways. One prime example of this determination is through the creation of the first MSN nurse educator track at King Faisal University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With an intention to provide nurses with adequate opportunity to become nurse educators through undergoing experiential learning and practice, the program was also developed to serve, empower, and create advocates and leaders who will amplify voices for the nursing education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The development of the program was considered to be a risky—yet at the same time a worthwhile—move in wanting to make a difference, much like other countries in the world and also considering the need to continue to strive as a trailblazer for change. In fact, it is a particular area in our profession that is underappreciated and requires more attention, as it is the specialization that provides light to the future of nursing education. It should have been seen as critical in the development of the next generation of nurses and nurse educators.

The initial cohort of King Faisal University’s MSN program began in September 2021 with students hailing from all across the Kingdom, including Riyadh, Abha, Al-Baha, Dammam, Al-Khobar, and many other locations. In its journey, the nurse educator role was considered to be one of the most underrated; however, its strong desire to make an impact in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had become its primary source of strength—the same desire to become a trailblazer for nurses whose passion lies in educating future nurses in the field. It was here that the ACEN accreditation project was born. Only after it undergoes and shows its attestation of quality and excellence from ACEN, the top authority in nursing education accreditation, can that influence be realized. In October 2021, the program began candidacy applications for eligibility. In November 2021, the eligibility was granted. As the program was new, it was not an easy step. On the other hand, it was one of the best judgments since, regardless of the outcome, aiming for excellence should begin from the outset of any program’s journey.

Throughout the process, the question of how a program may seek for ACEN accreditation without any alumni is likely to arise. Since the general belief is that you can only seek to undergo the accreditation process if your program has graduates, a slew of issues was raised from various stakeholders and departments inside the university. Fortunately, meeting all six ACEN Standards was a journey and a component of the goal; therefore, it was a great learning opportunity for other programs as well. It is something that cannot be accomplished by a single individual, but rather by a group of people working together. The diversity of King Faisal University’s MSN program is one of its distinguishing features. Its academic faculty are composed of people hailing from Saudi, Egypt, India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, among other nations. A diverse pool of abilities is serving the future nurse educators in the Kingdom, all motivated by their love and concern for the people they care about.

As the program is now preparing for the mandatory consultation visit, the beginning is fairly difficult. Some components of Standards 2, 4, 5, and 6 are currently being reviewed. The program is part of the same nursing education unit as the BSN program; therefore, the faculty pool for both programs is the same, covering Standard 2 on faculty. The MSN curriculum is based on a number of international standards, including the 2020 World Health Organization Nurse Educator Competencies and the 2021 AACN’s Essentials for Master’s Education in Nursing. Because the students are on a journey, the first semester of implementation is a current success. One of its role transition courses is designed to help students create their own trajectory plan that considers all aspects of nursing education, leadership, scholarship, self-care, and fields of interest in order to deeply engage them in lifelong learning—not only within the program but throughout their careers as future nurse educators. On the other hand, resources are readily available and accessible because the program’s class sessions are held on weekends. This is to meet the requirements and needs of all students, particularly those who come from various parts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The problem isn’t that students are failing courses and failing to satisfy the learning outcomes. However, because students are taught in speaking and academic writing as well as the program’s obligations to maintain rigor in the curriculum, there are certain hurdles to overcome. For instance, some of the students may face a challenge because English is not their first language. Consistency in the evaluation of learning outcomes is also an issue, which contributes to the faculty’s difficulty with convening in the same room and discussing issues cohesively, as well as the lack of a framework in place to assure clarity and consistency. Regardless of these concerns that are commonly occurring from time to time, the nursing education unit continues to work with its communities of interest to keep them informed about the path for these future nurse educators.

Every effort in this ACEN accreditation (or any venture in particular) is a journey with an undetermined end. “A thousand-mile journey begins with a single step,” said Lao Tzu. For each new program, applying for ACEN accreditation is a risk worth taking in the name of creating something bigger for the greater good. It is something that will have an impact on students, faculty, and Saudi society as a whole as it strives to empower its future nurses. It also hopes to be the first MSN program in Saudi Arabia to be accredited, as there are currently no ACEN-accredited graduate nursing schools in the country. The program, as well as its faculty regarded as “hardworking, irreplaceable gems,” is looking forward to this mandatory consultation visit in May 2022, as it will be another important step towards realizing its goal and impact to the future of the nursing education sector and profession.

Benjamin Joel Breboneria, DNS, MA, MSN, RN, CNE, NEA-BC, MSN Program Director/Coordinator

Written by Benjamin Joel Breboneria, DNS, MA, MSN, RN, CNE, NEA-BC, MSN Program Director/Coordinator


American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2021). The essentials: core competencies for professional nursing education. Retrieved from: https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/AcademicNursing/pdf/Essentials-2021.pdf    World Health organization (2016). Nurse Educator Core Competencies. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/hrh/nursing_midwifery/nurse_educator050416.pdf