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What Maine's Nursing Shortage Means to You

Nurses make up the largest segment of the healthcare workforce with more than 3 million employed in the Unites States. These professionals have long maintained a reputation as trusted caregivers in the healthcare industry.

The demand for more qualified and committed professionals has certainly increased over the years, with nearly 1.2 million vacancies for registered nurses projected to emerge between 2014 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the same note, several states in the U.S., including Maine, are facing a shortage of nurses, and the novel coronavirus pandemic has compounded the issue. Consider these additional factors that are contributing to the current and projected shortage:

  • Millions of registered nurses are retiring. The 2017 National Nursing Workforce Study revealed that the average age of a registered nurse is 51, and there is an expected mass exit of nurses from the workforce in the next decade.
  • Stress and burnout take a toll. A 2017 RN Network Survey showed that nearly half of the nurses surveyed considered leaving the field due to feeling overworked in an already fast-paced, high-stress environment. The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened nurses' feelings of burnout, too, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
  • There is a nursing faculty shortage. A lack of nursing faculty and professors directly impacts the number of qualified, future nurses in the industry. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported that graduate and doctoral programs turned away 11,628 qualified applicants in 2019 because of a shortage of faculty and space, as well as budget constraints.

There are several ways to combat this shortage and satisfy the demand for additional nurses in the industry. One of them involves making an impact where it all begins: in education. A degree with a specialization in nursing education, for example, can arm professionals with the tools they need to combat nursing faculty shortage and mold the minds of future registered nurses. 

The USM Master of Science in Nursing – Nursing Education online program prepares graduates for careers as nursing instructors, clinical nurse educators and nursing faculty, just to name a few. This quality-ensured program, according to its accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, meets the criteria for the Nurse Educator Certificate from the National League for Nursing — a mark of distinction for meeting compliance. The online program's affordable tuition cost and multiple start dates enable working professionals to earn the degree on their own terms. Master of Science in Nursing graduates will have a solid foundation for doctoral study or continued professional development in the industry.

USM's Master of Science in Nursing – Nursing Education online program works on developing quality instructors in both didactic and clinical courses for entry-level nursing programs. Graduates of USM's program will gain the following:

  • An understanding of nursing, humanities and education theory combined with the aptitude to convey this knowledge in an educational setting – including the ability to translate research into actionable steps to develop evidence-based teaching, assessment and evaluation practices
  • The ability to teach the skills necessary to improve patient outcomes and implement lasting changes in practice and education systems across diverse settings — including the use of appropriate technology for high-quality care
  • Knowledge of how to create learning experiences that support cognitive, psychomotor and emotional development
  • A holistic approach to incorporating the ecological, global, epidemiological, cultural and social determinants of health into nursing curricula

According to a 2017 analysis by officials from Maine's Department of Health and Human Services and the University of Maine System and nursing organizations, the state could face a shortage of 3,200 registered nurses by 2025 without sustainable action. Some hospitals in the state are even offering a $10,000 sign-on bonus and tuition repayment incentives for certain nursing positions as a way to draw and retain quality nurses in the state.

Pursuing a graduate degree in nursing has an impact that is twofold. It can help assuage this shortage by placing more qualified nurse educators in the industry, which ultimately increases the number of trusted healthcare professionals entering the workforce in the coming years.

Learn more about USM's Master of Science in Nursing – Nursing Education online program.



Sources:

WGME: Maine Facing Severe Nursing Shortage

Bangor Daily News: Maine Is Graduating More Nurses, but Not Enough to Fill Projected Shortage

Maine Public: How a Lewiston Hospital Group Is Trying to Offset the Nursing Shortage

Gallup: Americans Rate Healthcare Providers High on Honesty, Ethics

RN Network: Survey Finds Half of Nurses Considering Leaving the Profession

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Nursing Shortage

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

The Atlantic: The U.S. Is Running Out of Nurses

National Center for Biotechnology Information: Provider Burnout and Fatigue During the COVID-19 Pandemic

State of Maine: Task Force on Maine's 21st Century Economy and Workforce


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