1. Mennick, Fran BSN, RN


Nursing school enrollment continues to rise, but who will teach them?


Article Content

People born in the 1970s are now entering nursing in their late 20s and early 30s, allowing researchers to revise their estimates of the shortfall of nurses by 2020, according to a study published in the January- February issue of Health Affairs. These new nurses are completing associate's degree and accelerated 12- to 18-month baccalaureate programs designed for people who already have a degree in another field. The previous forecast, a deficit of 760,000 to 800,000 nurses by 2020, based on low rates of entry into nursing education programs right after high school, has been revised to 340,000 in response to current trends, including increased nursing school enrollment among people born in the United States in the 1970s and an influx of foreign-born nurses in the same age group. The projected shortfall is still three times larger than the 2001 shortage that prompted the closure of patient programs and nursing units, and it could endanger both nurses' willingness to keep working and patient care.


One significant factor affecting the size of the future deficit is nursing schools' capacity. In 2005, 147,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing programs because the schools didn't have enough faculty, classroom space, or clinical sites to place them in. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing recently reported that enrollment in baccalaureate programs increased by 5% from 2005 to 2006, but more than 32,000 qualified applicants could not be accommodated. Also, in 2005, 3,160 qualified applicants were turned away from master's programs and 202 from doctoral programs, primarily because there weren't enough teachers. In 2006 the average salary of a nurse faculty member with a master's degree was $55,712, 23% less than the $72,480 that an NP with a master's earned, a disparity that may contribute to the faculty shortage.


Auerbach DI, et al. Health Aff (Millwood) 2007;26(1):178-85.