Budget Crisis for Nursing Schools
September 3, 2008
Filed under Uncategorized
A 2004 study by the Bureau of Health Professions projected a 17 percent deficit in the number of nurses in the United States by 2010. This 17 percent deficit equates to 405,800 nursing jobs. By 2015, this figure is expected to increase to 683,700, and by 2020, to 1,016,900. It’s been nearly 70 years since the dawn of the baby boomer generation. There are an estimated 70 million baby boomers in the United States coming to terms with retirement and the inevitable need for nurses in homes, hospitals and assisted living facilities. The shortage is further complicated by the masses of baby boomer- age nurses retiring. The shortage increases the workload for current nurses, and often inspires career change among those who are simply burnt out. With so many nurses leaving the field, where are the nurses who would fill this gap? The number of nurses attending college is down as well. Budget cuts, higher tuition fees and limited instructors have prevented nursing students from paying their way through school. This is not to say that nursing is lacking candidates. Dr. Mary Kracun, the nursing department chair at National University, says, “There aren’t too many majors that can guarantee a job right out of college like nursing can.,” Asked about the most effective means for marketing the program, Dr. Kracym says “word of mouth.” California lawmakers recently proposed deep budget cuts in education. According to the University of California, the regents’ proposed budget has been under funded by $400 million. The number of nurses leaving the industry easily exceeds the number of graduates from nursing schools, causing an ever-increasing shortage. To beat back this deficiency, experts estimate enrollment for nursing programs must increase by 40 percent each year. As Dr. Kracun notes, the demand for nursing programs at schools is high. National University receives 100 to 150 applications each month. One glimmer of hope in the face of this shortage is the ability of private schools to do what state-funded schools can’t. While government-funded nursing schools face budget cuts, National University’s nursing program is flourishing and expanding. NU’s Campus in Henderson, Nev., recently won approval from the Nevada State Board of Nursing for a nursing program. Likewise, the National University campuses in Fresno and Los Angeles are in the process of interviewing for professors and other faculty members with the goal of launching nursing programs in the fall. The National University nursing program in San Diego accepts 50 students to each of four cohorts for a total of 200 students throughout the year. These cohorts of students follow along with the program for 22 months, and more than 90 percent of them ultimately graduate. The only thing slowing the acceptance of additional students is the availability of clinical placements. Many local hospitals offer clinical training but due to staffing and availability these hospitals can be overwhelmed with applicants and there is not enough room for them. National University’s answer to this problem seems to lie in the expansion of programs in different markets like Henderson, Fresno and Los Angeles. Once these programs are up and running, they will educate as many as 600 students a year. The lack of dependence on government support can create an efficient way to combat nursing shortages. This seems to be the case with National University in San Diego. Private colleges are in a unique position to remedy the nursing shortage.