One of the bright spots in the current shortage picture is the upturn in nursing school applications in all regions of the country. Yet a lack of faculty, clinical sites, and classroom space forces many schools to reject large numbers of qualified applicants
Many public institutions—where the vast majority of nurses are trained—report a variety of barriers to recruiting and retaining students: rising tuition, slim scholarship funds, increasing attrition, falling National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rates among non-BSN candidates, and inadequate math and science preparation.
The dearth of nursing school faculty is the most pressing shortage issue in nursing education. The median age of full-time faculty in the five states and the nation is now in the low fifties, and the number of graduates from master’s and doctoral programs continues to decline.
Master’s-prepared nurses are not seeking teaching positions in significant numbers largely because faculty salaries are not competitive with clinical salaries. Finally, states budget deficits are seriously constraining faculty hiring.
But if an employer can say, ‘I’ve got 50 nursing jobs,’ it makes sense for legislatures to invest in nursing schools, expanding their capacity and turning out nurses to fill those jobs. It’s an extremely attractive prospect.