Survey: Nursing Education Shortages Begin to Ease

Jul 8, 2013, 1:00 PM

In a hopeful sign, an annual survey from the National League for Nursing (NLN) finds that fewer qualified applicants were turned away from schools of nursing in the 2011-2012 school year than in recent years. The percentage of nursing programs that turned away qualified applicants dropped “substantially” for every program type except baccalaureate degree programs in the survey, and the percentage of students turned away also declined. The percentage of programs that could not fill available seats fell in 2012 as well.

In a news release, NLN President Judith Halstead, PhD, RN, FAAN, ANEF, called the trend “encouraging.” She noted that, “just two years ago the percentage of nursing programs that turned away qualified applicants was peaking across all types of nursing education programs, including almost two thirds of baccalaureate programs.”

The NLN Annual Survey of Schools of Nursing finds that the nurse faculty shortage continues to be the main obstacle to expansion for graduate programs, although that shortage is easing some as well. According to the new survey, 73 percent of responding schools reported hiring new nurse faculty in the past 12 months. More than two-thirds of those new hires have a master’s degree; 16 percent have PhDs; and 7 percent have DNPs.

Noting that doctoral nursing programs rejected 37 percent of qualified applicants in 2012, NLN CEO Beverly Malone, RN, PhD, FAAN, said in the news release: “With the importance of academic progression and a continuing need for doctorally prepared nurse faculty, we are pleased to note that this rejection rate has now dropped from 43 to 37 percent, though clearly we still have a long way to go.”

An increasing number of associate degree nurse and practical nurse programs cite a shortage of clinical sites as an obstacle to expansion, the survey reports.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.