Graduate Student Nurses Face Enrollment Concerns Over a Critical Shortage of Health Care Providers

Graduate Student Nurses Face Enrollment Concerns Over a Critical Shortage of Health Care Providers

The United States is facing a critical shortage in all health care professions. With the nation’s baby boomer population approaching retirement age, the issue is twofold: the aging population requires more care, and the nation’s physicians, nurses, and other health professionals are retiring.

Too Many Students, Not Enough Options

The solution to filling this gap is replacing the departing health care professionals with nursing graduates of all academic levels. However, many higher education institutions are turning away suitable candidates in droves. In 2016, nursing degree programs in the U.S. rejected 64,067 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs alike citing a lack of budget, faculty, clinical sites and preceptors, and classroom space.

Currently, there is a serious shortage of physicians, which continues to grow. By 2025, there will be a projected deficit of nearly 35,600 primary care doctors alone. Nursing schools are facing the struggle and strain to increase the capacity of existing nursing programs, and explore other avenues like online courses and accreditation.

Higher Education Means Higher Pay

Enrollment is increasing in nursing masters and doctoral programs across the country, and it’s no wonder that nurses are applying to graduate schools en masse. RNs realize there are significant perks to training and becoming an advanced practice registered nurse. Evidence shows that the quality of care by an advanced practice nurse is comparable to physicians, while often more affordable.

The full-time annual salary for a Nurse Practitioner (NP) averages $105,546. The high pay range of the NP may be partly to blame for the faculty shortage—higher compensation in the clinical setting is luring potential educators away from teaching.

Most vacant faculty positions require a terminal nursing degree. If more nurses pursue a doctoral degree, the faculty shortage will be alleviated. What will the outcomes of the nursing shortage be? Only time will tell.

Caitlin Goodwin MSN, RN, CNM is a Board Certified Nurse-Midwife and freelance writer. She has ten years of nursing experience and graduated with a MSN from Frontier Nursing University.    

College Debt Delays RN Advancement

College Debt Delays RN Advancement

Often the leading factor in nurses’ decisions about academic progression

Students are graduating from college with significant amounts of educational debt — in 2015 the average student borrower had $30,100 in loans upon graduation — and a recently published study finds that nurses are no different.

When Jan Jones-Schenk, DHSc, RN, NE-BC, national director for the college of health professions at Western Governors University, surveyed 1,299 working nurses for the study, 62% of the respondents reported they had prior college debt.

More than 39% of those with debt said their debt ranged from $1 to $24,999 while 23.5% reported debt greater than $25,000. Approximately one-third of the respondents said they had no prior college debt.

“Some had debt as high as $100,000, and 7% reported debt greater than $50,000. That’s a lifetime of debt,” Jones-Schenk said.

The study also found that educational debt influences nurses’ decisions about academic progression.

“The data showed that most of the people who have an education plan are going to go on, and they have debt,” she said. “But if they have more than $10,000 in college debt they’re going to delay their educational advancement so they’re not going to go on as quickly.”

Debt’s Influence on Education Decisions

When the National Academy of Medicine’s (formerly the Institute of Medicine) report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” was released in 2010, it had very specific recommendations on the educational preparation of RNs.

The report called for 80% of nurses to hold a baccalaureate degree by 2020, and for the number of nurses with doctorate degrees to double during that time as well. It also called upon healthcare organizations to encourage nurses with associate’s and diploma degrees to enter baccalaureate nursing programs within 5 years of graduation, and for accredited nursing schools to ensure that at least 10% of all baccalaureate graduates enrolled in master’s or doctoral program within 5 years of graduation.

“We all understand the basis of that,” Jones-Schenk said. “But I do think that nurse leaders may not understand that while they may offer tuition reimbursement or other incentives for their staff, they may not be aware of the current level of debt those people have already.”

While nurses with ADNs may want to obtain BSNs, they may already carry a large amount of educational debt from their associate’s degree program.

“Because I do have students in all 50 states, I was seeing programs where students were coming to me with an associate degree and it seemed like their college debt was already pretty high,” she said of her inspiration for the study. “Some of the associate degree programs were at $60,000.”

The Need for Financial Knowledge

Jones-Schenk said that good financial mentoring is one way to help nurses keep their educational debt in check.

“If [students] are eligible for federal financial aid or state financial aid, without good counseling they may take the maximum amount of eligibility. But they may not need all that,” she said.

“In our university, we have a specific initiative called ‘the responsible borrowing initiative.’ We counsel students about how much borrowing they really need and not to over-borrow … so they’re going to be able to go on without that debt as a barrier.”

Nurses should also look at the overall cost of a program, even if a college or university is offering a discount to their employer.

“‘If you’re saying, ‘Well, I’m going to go to the school that offers the 20% tuition discount versus one that offers a 5% discount,’ that percentage of discount is meaningless. What matters is the ultimate cost to the student,” Jones-Schenk said. “That’s where I think a lot of people get hung up. They think they’re going to go to a school because they offer a 20% discount, but the ultimate cost to the student is still $30,000 versus $10,000 [with a smaller discount].”

Responsibility for minimizing debt shouldn’t be placed entirely on the student. Jones-Schenk said that low-interest rate loans and loan forgiveness programs are tools that could help defray educational debt.

“Nurse leaders, people in higher education, the government, and other individuals who have an interest in healthcare are all worried about healthcare costs,” she said. “This is part of it as well. I would hope that we would take a serious look at the cost of higher education and its value and contribution to the health of the nation.”

This story was originally posted on MedPage Today.

New Online Master of Science in Nursing Degree Approved at Indiana University Bloomington

New Online Master of Science in Nursing Degree Approved at Indiana University Bloomington

The Indiana University Board of Trustees recently approved a new online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program through Indiana University (IU) Bloomington. The IU School of Nursing is based at IUPUI, which includes IU Fort Wayne and IU Bloomington.

Graduate education for the IU School of Nursing is only offered on campus, so the new program will increase access to graduate education in nursing and open greater opportunities for Indiana nursing students to meet the growing demands for nurses to obtain advanced degrees.

Students can complete the program in two years as a full-time student or three years as a part-time student. The master’s degree prepares students for admittance to doctoral nursing programs, or to careers as clinical faculty members or patient education professionals.

Now that the Board of Trustees has approved the new degree, the university is awaiting final approval by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. To learn more about IU Bloomington’s new online Master of Science in Nursing degree program, visit here.

University of San Francisco RN-MSN Pre-Application Webinar and Offer

University of San Francisco RN-MSN Pre-Application Webinar and Offer

View the Latest RN-MSN Online Event to Learn More about the University of San Francisco RN-MSN Program

Special Offer for RN-MSN Applicants

Any individuals who complete the University of San Francisco RN-MSN pre-application process will receive 1 year of Acadiate Pro free ($239 value). Also, individuals who complete the process prior to October 9th will receive personalized feedback on their pre-application.

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Launches Redesigned MSN Programs in Informatics and Health Care Leadership

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Launches Redesigned MSN Programs in Informatics and Health Care Leadership

The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN) recently relaunched two of its Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) speciality programs. The newly redesigned Nursing Informatics and Nursing and Health Care Leadership programs are now accepting applications for fall 2019.

Linda D. Norman, DSN, FAAN, VUSN dean and Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing, tells Nursing.Vanderbilt.edu, “Nursing, perhaps above all professions, understands the need to periodically revise procedures and direction so that they incorporate the best practices, thinking and evidence. We recently re-evaluated these two specialties to determine if there were newer or better ways to serve our students and prepare them for leadership roles.”

The redesign included making both specialty programs part time only, drawing in more registered nurses who want to work full time while working toward their master’s degree. The program will be offered in an online format that allows students to complete their degree requirements without relocating or leaving their job. On-campus interactive immersion experiences will also be incorporated periodically, in addition to distance learning activities like online conferencing and video-streamed lectures.

The Nursing Informatics program will incorporate curricular changes including newly emerging informatics competencies and innovations, as well as customized practicum experiences. The leadership specialty has been renamed the Nursing and Health Care Leadership program based on feedback from nursing professionals who wanted a program that incorporates stronger experiential learning, new collaborations with nursing informatics, and a focus on real-world learning.

To learn more about the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing’s newly redesigned MSN programs in Nursing Informatics and Nursing and Health Care Leadership, visit here.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Introduces Dual Program in Nursing Administration and Healthcare Informatics

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Introduces Dual Program in Nursing Administration and Healthcare Informatics

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) recently introduced a new Master of Science dual degree program in nursing administration and healthcare informatics. The program will prepare nurses for entry into management positions in healthcare organizations, and foster skill development in planning, designing, and implementing information technologies.

SIUE’s dual degree program provides a unique opportunity for experienced nurses to leverage their prior education and experience to improve their leadership skills by using technology to improve patient healthcare options.

Frank Lyerla, SIUE healthcare informatics director, stated in a press release: “In 2008, less than 10 percent of acute care hospitals were using electronic medical records. Today, that percentage is nearing 100 percent! Graduates of our dual degree program will be well situated for leadership positions in two fields that are growing and in high demand.”

The dual degree nursing program opens up new career opportunities to guide and lead fellow nurses by becoming a nurse manager or healthcare executive. Graduates will be prepared to analyze and interpret clinical data and work with other health professionals to plan, implement, and optimize healthcare information systems to aid in training, project management, and leadership within an organization.

To learn more about SIUE’s new dual program in Nursing Administration and Healthcare Informatics, visit here.

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