by Laura Morrison, February 2014
If you're interested in pursuing graduate programs in nursing, then it helps to know the latest on the nursing faculty shortage, which is expected to worsen in the years ahead. While you may encounter challenges in your pursuit of an advanced degree, you should know that you have the power to make a difference.
Everyone grows old. This simple truth certainly doesn't come as a shock to health care professionals. However, the fact that so many individuals - the baby boomers - are entering old age at the same time is placing a burden on the nation's nursing workforce, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
One of the easiest solutions to this dilemma would be to allow more individuals to enter the nursing workforce. Unfortunately, many of the nation's colleges and universities don't have enough nurse educators to train the next generation of caregivers.
There is no one single cause for the dwindling number of nurse educators in academia. A variety of issues are pulling teachers away from nursing school, including retirements due to age, as well as more attractive job opportunities outside of academia.
Of course, for prospective students, the reasons why there aren't as many educators are not as important as the impact it has on their academic goals. In 2011, for example, undergraduate and graduate nursing programs didn't accept 75,587 qualified applicants, according to the AACN. In addition, the results of a 2012 AACN survey revealed that 56.9 percent of nursing schools reported full-time faculty vacancies.
Based on this data, if you have your sights set on an advanced nursing degree, you should make sure the graduate schools you're considering are not experiencing a significant faculty shortage.
While you may not be able to help end the national nursing faculty shortage overnight, you can certainly have an impact by pursuing nursing degrees at the doctoral level. This is in line with what the Institute of Medicine would like to see from nursing professionals. In 2010, the IOM urged caregivers to pursue higher levels of education and expressed its hopes that the number of students pursuing doctorates would double by 2020, according to a press release.
With a PhD in nursing, you could one day assume the role of a nursing professor and help prepare the next generation of professionals. Of course, your path to achieving this goal begins in graduate school.
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