Nursing School Enrollment Continues to Increase, Capacity Still an Issue

Dec 12, 2012, 11:00 AM

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) last week released preliminary findings from its annual nursing education survey showing an increase in enrollment in all types of nursing programs from 2011 to 2012.

The AACN survey finds a 3.5 percent increase in entry-level Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program enrollment, and a significant increase in the number of students in graduate nursing programs. Master’s degree nursing programs reported an 8.2 percent increase in enrollment, while Doctor of Nursing Practice program enrollment increased by 19.6 percent and PhD/DNS programs by 1.3 percent.

Baccalaureate degree completion programs (RN to BSN) saw an increase in enrollment of 22.2 percent, which marks the 10th year of enrollment increases for these programs.

Though enrollment has increased, the survey finds that many potential students are still being turned away. In 2012, more than 52,000 qualified applicants were turned away from entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs because of a shortage of clinical placement sites, faculty, and funding.

In addition to its annual survey, AACN also released data showing that baccalaureate nursing graduates are at least twice as likely as those in other fields to have a job at the time they graduate. The survey also finds hospitals and other employers prefer hiring new nurses with BSNs.

One goal of the Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, is that 80 percent of nurses have bachelor’s degrees or higher by the year 2020.

Learn more about the survey results.

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