Nursing Schools Lack Resources to Accommodate All Qualified Students

Many schools do not have the faculty to accommodate all qualified applicants to nursing programs.(US News & World Report) According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare industry is rapidly expanding. Between 2008 and 2018, it is estimated that the field will generate 3.2 million new wage and salary jobs, which is more than any other industry in the nation.

The high demand for healthcare employees is largely being fueled by the baby boomer generation, which is set to retire and leave many positions vacant in the near future. Additionally, as these individuals age, they will require advanced care from professionals like registered nurses.

Estimates  indicate that in the years to come, demand for nurses will grow so fast that there will be a shortage. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that by 2025, the nation will lack a necessary 260,000 registered nurses, which could leave many Americans without access to sufficient healthcare.

The nursing shortage may only be made worse by the fact that today, schools across the country need to turn away qualified applicants to their nursing programs because they do not have the faculty or space to accommodate them.

According to new data by the AACN, total enrollment in bachelor’s degree nursing programs is currently 259,100, marking an increase from 238,799 in 2010. Additionally, more students are applying to nursing programs. In the 2010-2011 school year, about 255,670 people filled out applications for entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs, which is a 5.6% increase from 2010.

Although more people are pursuing nursing degrees than ever before, thousands of students are still turned away from these courses annually. The report shows that last year, about 75,580 qualified applicants were turned away from professional graduate and undergraduate nursing programs, largely due to colleges’ student capacity limits and a lack of proper resources. Specifically, in a 2010-2011 survey by the AACN, two-thirds of schools said faculty shortages prevented them from accepting more students.

After further examining this issue, the AACN found that in September 2011, a total of 1,088 faculty positions were vacant at 603 nursing schools across the country. On top of filling these empty positions, the schools said they collectively needed 104 new faculty positions to accommodate student demand for bachelor’s degree programs.

The shortage of nursing faculty is only expected to get worse, as estimates suggest that between 220 and 280 professors with doctorate degrees will be eligible for retirement every year between 2012 and 2018.