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University Takes Unusual Step to Increase Nursing Faculty

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Faculty shortages are a national issue and are expected to worsen as faculty retire in the coming years.

  • In 2006, there were 637 faculty vacancies nationwide at 329 nursing schools with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

  • Last year, a study found U.S. nursing schools turned away 42,866 qualified applicants to baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs.

  • Seventy-one percent of schools said that faculty shortages prohibited more admissions last year.

By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

In a move at odds with other programs trying to expand the number of freshman nursing students they accept, the University of Iowa College of Nursing will admit half of the traditional undergraduate students it has in the past and concentrate its efforts on preparing nurses with advanced degrees.

“I think it’s wise for the University of Iowa College of Nursing to take it upon itself to backfill its own program, because they are admitting and showing to the world we need strong nursing faculty available to have nurses for tomorrow,” said Karol Joenks, RN, BSN, president of the Iowa Nurses Association and an alumnus of the Iowa City school. “If there is more faculty, they can increase the number of classes.”

“That’s an extremely rational decision on their part,” said Geraldine “Polly” Bednash, PhD, RN, FAAN, executive director of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. “We have an enormous shortage of people with graduate preparation in this country who could serve as faculty members.”

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