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Results from the National League for Nursing (NLN) survey are available. Taken from May to December 2009, the survey addressed topics important to nursing including unused educational capacity, constraints on expanding admissions, faculty vacancies, faculty recruitment and the impact of faculty shortages on educational capacity. Gathered annually since the 1950s, NLN's suvey data has been used to identify and strategize responses to challenges facing both the nursing education workforce and nursing education capacity.


The 2009 survey results show that admissions to nursing programs fell and enrollment was flat for the first time in 6 years. Graduations had increased in 2008, but this is attributed to increased admissions between 2003 and 2005. The demand for admission to nursing programs significantly exceeds the ability to supply admission to interested applicants. Twenty-five percent of all nursing programs received more qualified applicants than could be accepted. Pre-licensure programs turned away 39% of their qualified applicants. Approximately 60% of the associate degree and diploma programs report that they were highly selective in their admissions process, meaning that these programs accepted less than 50% of qualified applicants. Thirty nine percent of all baccalaureate programs report being highly selective.


The faculty shortage was the main obstacle to accepting qualified applicants into post-licensure programs. Pre-licensure programs reported lack of clinical facilities as the most significant factor that limited their admissions. All programs reported that that filling vacant faculty positions would allow them to admit more students. Approximately 75% of the pre-licensure programs, 66% of master's program, and more than 50% of doctoral programs in nursing report faculty vacancies as the main barrier to educational capacity.


Only 1 in 10 nursing schools reported unfilled vacancies for new student slots. These programs reported that unfilled spots could be attributed to either a lack of qualified students (44%) or increasing educational costs (19%). Identifying, analyzing, and evaluating this data can help nursing faculty identify strategic focus. As we all know, more nursing faculty is needed to meet the educational demands ahead. How this is achieved is a question we continue to ponder.


Source: National League for Nursing. NLN News. February 9, 2010. Notable findings from NLN annual survey of schools of nursing: As recession hits, expansion of educational capacity stalls insufficient faculty is major constraint to expansion of post-licensure programs. Available at Accessed on March 10, 2010.


Submitted by: Robin Pattillo, PhD, RN, News Editor at[email protected].