I am frequently asked questions relating to the number of students admitted into the College of Nursing. The most frequent questions are: have we decreased the number of students admitted into the nursing program; are our students able to get jobs; and is there a nursing shortage. The conversations generally focus on the awareness that many healthcare facilities across the country are hiring very few new graduates, as they do not have any practice experience outside of educational clinical experiences. All of these are good questions.
It is true that in the past couple of years, new graduates from all nursing programs have experienced a delay in obtaining employment upon graduation. Seventy-four percent of our graduates are employed within 4-6 months after graduation. This rate is much higher than the reported national rate for university graduates. Multiple factors influence the decline in job opportunities for new nursing graduates. The most significant contributor is the declining economy that resulted in nurses delaying retirement. The reaction of health care agencies to the changing economy have led to hiring freezes and hiring nurses with two or more years of experiences into the limited vacancies. Changes in health care delivery and funding are changing the arenas of practice from hospitals to other settings such as clinics, home health, and community settings. Also, the clinical area of nursing practice is moving from generalized practice to specialized practice (e.g. emergency room, intensive care, psychiatric settings).
The College of Nursing has not decreased the number of students enrolled in nursing. Reality is that due to an improving economy, more than half of the current nursing workforce is poised to retire en masse between now and 2022.
The term Tsunami: RN Retirement is being used when describing this mass exodus from the practice and educational setting. In 2013 the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics updated its nursing employment projections for 2012-2022. It is now predicted that employment of nurses is projected to grow 19 percent, which is higher than the projected employment growth of 11% in all occupations. The magnitude of the looming nurse shortage is problematic. A demand for healthcare services will increase due to the aging population resulting in an increased population who are living with chronic health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. There is also a high demand for nurse practitioners, and for faculty and Deans in programs of nursing.
The College of Nursing will continue to offer nursing programs that are responsive to nursing workforce needs, needs of our community of interest, and changing trends in healthcare delivery. We will continue to graduate entry-level nurses, family nurse practitioners, psychiatric nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, researchers, faculty, and administrators.