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NLN report finds nursing education capacity expanding

Sunday June 30, 2013
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The latest survey of nursing schools by the National League for Nursing finds the nationís nursing education capacity expanding and some of the longstanding, unmet demand for seats in nursing schools beginning to subside.

Waiting lists for entry into nursing programs were persistently long throughout the late-2000s, with national statistics and news reports and anecdotes from around the country describing a widespread lack of capacity in nursing education programs, according to an NLN news release.

NLN CEO Beverly Malone, RN, PhD, FAAN, noted that the percentage of doctoral programs that rejected qualified applicants dropped from 43% to 37% from the 2010-11 academic year to 2011-12. The trend is significant given "the importance of academic progression and a continuing need for doctorally prepared nurse faculty," Malone said in a news release.

Nevertheless, "clearly we still have a long way to go," Malone added. "While the percentage of all types of programs citing a faculty shortage has declined since peaking in 2009, graduate programs continue to cite a lack of faculty as the primary obstacle to expansion."

While a shortage of nurse educators continues to frustrate the expansion plans of many nursing programs, this yearís survey offers evidence that the long-term outlook may be improving: 73% of responding schools had hired new full-time faculty in the past 12 months.

When asked to rank criteria used in faculty hiring, the top three were ability to teach particular course work, ability to communicate effectively, and having formal, graduate-level teacher training. The ability to work well with others and having a doctoral degree were intermediate considerations, ranking fourth and fifth, respectively.

The percentage of minorities enrolled in most types of post-licensure programs rose notably in 2012. RN-to-BSN programs exhibited the largest uptick, with minority enrollment gaining four percentage points to reach 26%. Doctoral programs also saw a gain of four percentage points, with more than one in five students (22%) belonging to a minority group in 2012. Minority enrollment in masterís programs held steady at 24%.

One trend continues to run counter to the upbeat outlook: the shortage of clinical placement settings, which in particular negatively affects the expansion of practical-nurse and ADN programs. Since 2010, the percentage of ADN and PN program directors who cited a shortage of clinical sites as the primary impediment to expansion has increased steadily.

See the findings of the report: www.nln.org/researchgrants/slides/viewall_1112.htm.

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