OK. I'll bite. Since the question was asked of me in a public forum, I will answer it publically. I'm sorry this post is so long, but it's not an easy question to answer.
After graduating with my BSN in 1977, I worked as a NICU staff nurse for 2 years, then got my MSN in Perinatal Nursing (with a minor in Nursing Administration and some extra coursework in Nursing Education.) Then I worked as a NICU CNS for 10 years. For 2 of those years, I had a joint appointment with a school of nursing, teaching a Master's level course in neonatal nursing and supervising some graduate student clinicals.
After 10 years as a CNS (with a fairly strong staff development component to my role much of the time), I felt I was ready to move on. The projects I wanted to do required more education and I needed to learn more. Also, I knew that in order to rightfully claim "fully equal status" to physicians, I would need a fully equal education -- that meant a doctorate. Finally, I was always somewhat bookish and always wanted a PhD. So, I did it. I quit my job in my mid-thirties and went back to school for another 5 years as a PhD student, graduating in 1996.
The "ivy-covered halls" image always appealed to me, but like many nurses in my generation, that just didn't work out for me. When I was getting to graduate with my PhD, schools were only hiring nurse practitioners for their faculties. They were trying to expand these programs and were not interested in those of use who had specialized in what I will call "traditional nursing care roles." In fact, I was scheduled to serve on a panel at a very major conference with other PhD students from UCSF and the Univ. of Washington to discuss how so many of us getting ready to graduate could not even get interviews. (I think of that when I hear about them whining about the faculty shortage. They chased us away back in the 1990's.)
Besides the nurse practitioner issue, there was another problem. My clinical specialty, neonatal (both low risk and high risk) is only a minor part of the undergraduate curriculum. So, I am not well-suited to teach undergraduate clinical rotations. Actually, I would call myself "unqualified" as I have never worked adult med/surg and have minimal peds and maternity experience. Clinically, I am a baby person and my other areas of genuine expertise are in the roles of Master's-prepared nurses -- CNS, staff development, etc.
Now ... Here is the stickler. When you are a brand new faculty member, you usually come into system as the junior member of the team, regardless of your clinical background/qualifications. They want you to teach the courses that no one else wants to teach -- undergraduate clinicals. But how can I teach undergraduate clinicals when I have never worked in those fields? And the courses that I was (and still am) most qualified to teach -- undergraduate and Master's level courses in research, leadership, advanced role issues, and theory are almost always given to the long-time faculty members because they have the nicest hours and are considered the "plum" teaching assignments -- even though those faculty members may have minimal experience actually working in those roles as opposed to my many years of experience.
In short, there is no established process for people who have risen in their careers in hospitals to "cross over" to academic teaching roles (with a few exceptions, such as post-doc fellowships and luck). If you are at the beginning of your career and happen to have chosen a general field that fits well with undergraduate clinicals, then it is a lot easier. If you are in a sub-specialty and have risen to become an expert in it (I had published, served on a national committee, etc. in neonatal) ... then it is harder because you have been farther removed from the generalist world of the beginner-level undergraduate. Does that make sense? Am I explaining this semi-clearly?
I got lucky. A university offered me a position teaching in their undergraduate mother/baby rotation. They promised me that I would be paired with a maternity instructor for the first few weeks to give me a chance to develop some maternity skills before having a group by myself. I would give all the baby lectures ... and have clinical groups that would include the special care nursing, the mother-baby unit, and labor and delivery. I was told that since the students would be paired with a nurse in L and D, my lack of experience there would be no problem.
Well ... after moving across the country to take advantage of that great opportunity, I learned on my first day of work that they decided not to give me the orientation they promised me. Instead, I would have to take a clinical group to an adult med/surg unit for the first rotation! Then, I would do the perinatal rotations listed above, but with no orientation to OB. The feedback from the students and the nurses on the floor was actually pretty positive that semester, considering. I coped. But after the first semester, I learned that the person I had replaced had decided to return and that my contract would not be renewed the following year. They really wanted a generalist who could teach everything, not a baby specialist. (Then why had they hired me?) I had moved across the country and invested a year of my life for essentially nothing -- nothing but a lot of stress and a feeling of having been betrayed by some very prominent nursing leaders at that university.
I landed on my feet -- back as a NICU CNS at a children's hospital in a much nicer city. In a few years, the Vice President for Nursing offered me a unique position as the liaison with all the local schools of nursing, the coordinator of the summer nurse extern program, and with the opportunity to work on a lot of special projects of my own choosing. I make more money then most faculty members, set my own hours (0900-1800 most days), and have a whole lot of autonomy. With the extern program, I work only with students who are really motivated in peds. ... and with the staff development that I continue to do sometimes, those courses are taught at a level appropriate for people who have already graduated.
In the end, I have done OK and I am satisfied with my job. Sometimes, I still wish for the "ivy-covered-halls" fantasy ... but I have come to see that, for most of us, that is just a fantasy. The reality of teaching is often a lot different than the fantasy. Only a few get the fantasy. I'm making the best of my "2nd choice" for a career.
Do I regret going for my PhD? Never for a moment. I loved doing it and I would not feel complete without it. It added so much to my perspective of nursing and to life and scholarship
in general. It's like when Dorothy landed in the Land of Oz and everything after that was in color instead of black and white. There is a whole other level that most nurses never see and that is a shame.