NURSING SHORTAGE: May Worsen as Program Enrollment Falls
As health care providers struggle to deal with a serious shortage of nurses, a new study indicates that the problem is not likely to get better in the short term, with nursing school enrollments down 5.5% last year. An annual American Association of Colleges of Nursing survey blames recent reports of nursing layoffs and hospital downsizing for the decline in entry-level baccalaureate enrollments. AACN President Andrea Lindell said those cuts "apparently created lasting, but now outdated, perceptions in many potential students who remain unaware of today's new reality." The AACN also blamed the dip on several nursing schools choosing "to cut back their [B.A.] admissions because of faculty shortages or other resource constraints," with 107 schools reporting they did not accept all qualified applicants to their B.A. nursing programs. Baccalaureate admissions have decreased for the last four years and the timing could not be worse. The AACN reports that many communities face steep nursing shortages that will only become worse as "an aging RN workforce" retires. Although demand for nurses will not outstrip supply until 2010, the HHS' Division of Nursing reports that "already, in an expanding number of markets, hospitals and other employers are struggling to meet rising need for RN care and are stepping up recruitment" (AACN release, 1/25). Click here or call the AACN at 202/463-6930 to obtain a copy of the report.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.