As the future unfolds, will you have a Registered Nurse (RN) at your hospital or home bedside tending to your health care needs? Today, it is important to ask this question because the nursing profession is currently facing several challenges that may keep students from entering nursing schools and contributing to a formidable future nursing shortage.
According to AACN’s report on 2018-2019 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 75,000 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2018 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, and clinical preceptors, as well as budget constraints.
Almost two-thirds of the nursing schools responding to the survey pointed to a shortage of faculty and/or clinical preceptors as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into their programs.
To top this, there is an accelerating rate of RN retirements. The researchers project that one million RNs will retire by 2030 and that “the departure of such a large cohort of experienced RNs means that patient care settings and other organizations that depend on RNs will face a significant loss of nursing knowledge and expertise that will be felt for years to come.”
Looking forward, almost all surveyed nurses see the growing shortage as a catalyst for increasing stress on nurses (98%), lowering patient care quality (93%) and causing nurses to leave the profession (93%).
With this grim picture, there is still some good news on the horizon. Nursing schools are starting to form capacity innovation partnerships and seeking private support to help expand student capacity. They want to ensure that all vacant seats in schools of nursing are filled to better meet the need for nurses and faculty.
There have begun economic development incentive grants, which will provide fellowships and loan forgiveness for future nurse faculty who agree to teach after graduation. And, watch for a multimedia initiative to promote careers in nursing and polish the image of nursing.
My hope is that we continue to encourage students entering college to consider the nursing profession. It is a great choice for students interested in a degree that can lead to a rewarding career with job stability and strong earning potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth in the health care industry is going to increase exponentially by 2024 and outpace all other industries in the coming years.
It also is worth saying, that the nursing profession is not for the fainthearted . Students applying to nursing school need to have a maturity that is beyond their years. Nursing programs provide rigorous training to prepare students for their careers. In addition to the challenging science courses, students receive practical experience through the clinical nursing experience which gets them right into the stream of life and death matters.
I was grateful to enter public health nursing for most of my career. This arena took me into homes and into the community of Southern Chester County. The families I have served and the community health projects that I have engaged stay in my heart today and have contributed to a fulfilling career. Ask me about the nursing field and you will hear about its abundant rewards.