“Nursing schools can’t grow fast enough to let everybody in” — Did you read it?

Flickr | Zimbly Anil
Flickr | Zimbly Anil

We’ve got a serious supply and demand problem. The country needs more nurses, but nursing school acceptance rates aren’t reflecting that need.

In fact, a surprising number of qualified applicants are being rejected by bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs.

So…what gives? Here, Bloomberg Business breaks down what appears to be a major flaw in the system:

Even though job openings for nurses are abundant, many of the people who’d like to fill them aren’t getting the chance, a new study shows. 

In a report (pdf) released …by the Georgetown Center on Education & the Workforce, researchers showed that bachelor of nursing programs rejected 37 percent of applicants who were qualified to get in during the 2011-12 admissions cycle. For associate’s degree programs, the number is even higher: 51 percent of qualified applications weren’t approved.

Nursing schools simply can’t expand fast enough to accommodate all the good candidates they’re getting. As a result, tens of thousands of students who complete the required coursework and earned the minimum GPA to get into nursing programs aren’t accepted. 

So if the issue isn’t the quality of the applicants, then what gives? Frankly, it’s tough to find good teachers.

Difficulty hiring faculty members may be the biggest factor preventing nursing schools from accepting all qualified applicants. About 34 percent of 414 schools surveyed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (pdf) said an insufficient number of faculty was the most important reason they didn’t accept all qualified applicants

It’s a vicious catch-22: There aren’t enough faculty to teach more students, and there aren’t more students graduating who could become faculty, because there aren’t enough spots for them.

Want to read more? Check out the entire article here, then be sure to share your own thoughts with us in the comments section below!


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5 Responses to “Nursing schools can’t grow fast enough to let everybody in” — Did you read it?

  1. Catherine Howat

    Perhaps it might be time to go back to hospital based training. I was trained this way myself, and have always contended that it makes for a better nurse

  2. Loretta Murphy

    “Smith says that’s because most nurses who could go back to school for advanced degrees prefer to pursue advanced practice and management roles, instead of teaching, which usually isn’t as lucrative.

    It’s a vicious Catch-22: There aren’t enough faculty to teach more students, and there aren’t more students graduating who could become faculty, because there aren’t enough spots for them.”

    The reason that there is not enough nursing faculty is not only because nurses who could go back to school prefer AP and management roles. The requirements and qualifications put into place for nursing instructors has become too restrictive. We are overspecialized and over regulated at the top of nursing and under regulated and under educated at the bottom. As a profession, we still cannot come to a unified decision as to what the entry level degree of educational preparation needs to be for our novices yet we prevent many of our most seasoned, knowledgeable nursing professionals from teaching because they don’t have the “right” Master’s Degree in Nursing. It is not enough to have a master’s in nursing to teach – one must have a masters in the correct clinical specialty.

    We are becoming a profession of dinosaurs, bogged down in our own bureaucracy. Why are we overspecializing at the top anyway? Nursing professionals need to cross train and be more adaptable in clinical situations these days – not get boxed into one rigid clinical role or setting. For example, a psych mental health nurse has to get certified as either an adult psych mental health nurse or a child and adolescent psych mental health nurse. Why? This will only stifle the professional nurse’s ability to expand her skills and role over time.

    It should be enough to have a Master’s Degree in NURSING and demonstrate a expert level of clinical experience across a specialty or one or two specialties to be able to teach.

    We are over regulating ourselves right out of our profession. Firm up the bottom and loosen up at the top. A profession needs a strong and broad base of support upon which to build its foundation (establish the BSN as entry level nursing professional) but it must be open to growth and change at the top (establish the generic MSN, permit two pathways to becoming a nursing professor (a MSN plus 10 years of clinical experience, or an MSN with an academic specialty tract plus 5 years experience, for example).

  3. Libby Doesntlikefb

    I can’t speak for the Midwest or East, but on the West coast the bigger problem is finding jobs for the new graduates. Applications are competitive, yes. However getting a job is even more competitive. There are hospitals all over the place with massive shortages, but no one is willing to train a new grad. Residencies are few and far between, and if you’re an ADN grad they won’t even look at your resume. (Even if you’re already in an RN to BSN program.) This isn’t just in my own experience, either. Ive talked to students from areas all over the West that describe exactly the same situation. Perhaps the hospitals should invest in training new staff, and work to keep them happy so that they stay on.

  4. Goldwing65

    I am retiring as an Assistant Professor of Nursing. It is difficult to recruit faculty because faculty salaries are pitiful in comparison to practice. We beg and take whoever we can get. It doesn’t mean the are the best qualified, often times they are just another body. We cannot be picky. So no faculty means not being able to accept students