This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

March 28, 2012

Enrollment Surge Responds to Calls for More Educated Nurses

As more nurses answered the call to advance their education, enrollment in nursing programs increased last year. According to new data recently released by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), enrollment in undergraduate nursing programs increased by 5.1 percent in 2011. At the same time, enrollment in PhD nursing programs increased by 7.9 percent over the previous year.

Though it is good news that nursing schools have been able to expand their student capacity, the latest data show that 75,587 qualified applicants to professional nursing programs were still turned away last year. The top reasons reported by nursing schools for not accepting all qualified students into entry-level programs, include insufficient clinical teaching sites (65.2 percent), a lack of faculty (62.5 percent), limited classroom space (46.1 percent), insufficient preceptors* (29.4 percent), and budget cuts (24.8 percent).

After the release of the Institute of Medicine's (IOM), titled the “Future of Nursing”, conversations about raising the educational level of the nursing workforce increased. Last year's growth in enrollment across all nursing programs clearly reflects a strong interest among students in advancing their education.

IOM's report called for at least 80 percent of the nursing workforce to hold a baccalaureate degree by 2020 and a doubling of the number of nurses with doctorates. AACN believes that implementing the IOM recommendations will drive the nursing profession forward; moreover, high levels of education will better position nurses to become full partners in reforming healthcare delivery systems.

On the global scene, according to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), between 2000 and 2009, Chile, Brazil, and China led the world in increases in the numbers of enrolled nurses with surges of 12.1, 10.7, and 8.8 percent, respectively.

In February 2012, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) identified Registered Nursing as one of the leading occupations for job growth through 2020. Within the next eight years, BLS projects the need for 1.2 million additional nurses to fill new positions and replace those who are retiring. The aging Baby Boomers will add to the need for nurses at all levels, including those that serve patients in place of physicians.

* Preceptors are special nurse coach-mentors.


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