May 01, 2011

Nursing Education Capacity

Nursing School Capacity

  • Analyzing a variety of data sources, researchers estimated that in 2005, 3,887 qualified applicants to bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs and 37,510 qualified applicants to associate degree in nursing (ADN) programs were turned away due to lack of capacity, a total of 41,397 qualified applicants (Kovner and Djukic, 2009).
  • Over the past eight years, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) survey of nursing schools has found that the number of qualified applicants turned away from entry-level BSN programs grew steadily from 3,600 in 2002 to 52,115 in 2010 (AACN, 2010a).
  • Trend data suggests that if educational capacity were expanded to meet enrollment demand, predicted future nursing shortages could be eliminated by enrolling existing qualified nursing applicants (roughly 30,000 per year) (Allan and Aldebron, 2008).

Demand for Nurse Faculty

  • Between 1993 and 2001, the average age of doctorally prepared nurse faculty has increased steadily from 49.7 to 53.3 years, a rate of increase approximately 58% greater than that of the RN workforce as a whole (which increased from 43.1 to 45.2 years from 1992-2000). (Berlin and Sechrist, 2002; HRSA, 2000; HRSA, 1992).
  • With the average age of nurse faculty retirement 62.5 years, a wave of faculty vacancies are expected as older teaching nurses retire (Berlin and Sechrist, 2002).
  • The AACN survey of nursing schools found that 54.5% of nursing programs report faculty vacancies for the 2010-11 school year, an overall vacancy rate of 6.9% or 880 positions. The majority of these vacancies (73.2%) require faculty to assume both clinical and classroom responsibilities. The most common challenges cited by schools in recruitment of faculty were a limited pool of doctorally trained nurses (30.4%) and an inability to offer competitive salaries (30.2%) (AACN, 2010b).
  • Data from the AACN survey of nursing schools reveals that of the major barriers to expanding BSN enrollment, lack of faculty (61.5%) and lack of clinical sites (60.8%) are the most common (RWJF,, 2010).
  • Salary disparities between practicing nurses and nurse educators are significant.  2010 data from the national survey of registered nurses shows the average salary of a clinical nurse is $85,000, compared to an average of $63,949 for teaching nurses (HRSA, 2010).
  • A recent analysis of registered nurse survey data from 1970 to 1994 shows that only 6% of nurses who graduate with an associates degree go on to obtain a master’s of science in nursing (MSN) and/or a doctoral degree (in any field), compared to the 20% of BSN graduates who will pursue graduate nurse training.  Since either a MSN or doctoral degree is required to qualify for most teaching positions, the authors conclude that if these trends continue it will be difficult to sufficiently expand the teaching workforce to meet future demand (Aiken et al., 2009).