It should come as no surprise that registered nurses (RNs) make up one of the largest segments of the US workforce. Currently, there are more than 3.8 million RNs nationwide and most people have a family member, friend, or neighbor who works in the nursing field. In the last year, 84.3% of adults and 93.6% of children have had contact with a healthcare professional. Growing employment rates are always expected of the nursing field, and due to the Coronavirus pandemic, forecasted rates will most likely increase. Unfortunately, for many colleges across the US, this will mean an abundance of potential nursing students coupled with a lack of resources to support their education. How can such an important field of profession prepare its students for a thorough education? How will this affect US patients? How can this problem be solved?
Many nursing schools are currently experiencing limited clinical placement opportunities and a shortage of faculty as a result of the growing number of undergraduate nursing programs. In addition, patient-safety guidelines in place at some facilities, both prior to and as a result of the pandemic,only allow for a small number of nursing students present at a time. Schools often turn away thousands of applicants due to their inability to accommodate them. According to AACN’s report on 2018-2019 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away 75,029 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2018 due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints. Most nursing schools responding to the survey pointed to faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into baccalaureate programs. This means the school receives less money and the students are potentially unable to study their desired specializations, which may result in their choosing to receive a degree at another school. As a direct result,here are overall less new nursing candidates to keep up with the demand needed in facilities across the US. Funding streams and scholarships are often created to try to combat these issues, but must be a constant investment in order to be effective. Scholarships only go so far, and fail to fix the root cause of the problem. However, a one time investment in simulator equipment could solve issues at hand -- a lack of clinical sites and the faculty to staff them sufficiently.