The healthcare field is suffering a widespread nursing shortage. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals across the United States were looking ahead at the dire projections and trying to mitigate the need for more specialized healthcare professionals.
Some states have been hit harder by the shortage than others. In Maine, it is estimated there will be a shortage of 2,700 nurses by 2025 — a slight decrease from the previous projection of 3,200 based on a 2017 analysis by the Center for Health Affairs.
Still, 2,700 is far from breaking even. If you are interested in equipping future nursing professionals to fill the shortage, an online Master of Science in Nursing – Nursing Education program can help you become a valuable nursing educator for the future of the profession.
Where Are All the Nurses?
The reasons for the nursing shortage cannot be boiled down into one simple explanation. However, one of the most significant factors is that there are not enough nurse educators to train incoming nursing professionals. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), U.S. nursing schools turned away 80,407 qualified applications from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2019.
The AACN’s survey, 2019-2020 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing, notes that these programs were unable to accept applicants — no matter how qualified — due to an “insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints.” Most nursing schools responding to this survey revealed faculty shortages as one of the most problematic contributing factors.
An additional survey conducted by AACN in 2019 showed:
- A national nurse faculty vacancy rate of 7.2%
- 1,637 total faculty vacancies among 892 nursing schools surveyed
- A need to create an additional 134 faculty positions to accommodate student demand
3 Primary Reasons for the Lack of Nurse Educators
In order to address the issue of the nurse educator shortage, one must understanding the reason(s) the supply/demand is so off-kilter. Here are some contributing factors for the lack of nurse educators:
Many nurse educators are approaching retirement, lessening the number of productive years they can teach. With retirement and older age comes more complicated health problems, which can affect one’s ability to perform at an optimal level both physically and mentally. The truth is, many nurse educators are retiring, aging and leaving a void behind them.
In an article published in Nursing Outlook titled “Retirements and Succession of Nursing Faculty in 2016-2025,” Drs. Di Fang and Dr. Karen Kesten report that a massive one-third of the current nursing faculty workforce in baccalaureate and graduate programs are expected to retire by 2025.
Additionally, higher-trained nurses are being recruited to clinical and private sector settings, where the compensation is much more lucrative than teaching roles.
Maine Is Stepping Up
What is the course of action for addressing these issues? Fortunately, Maine is proactively invested in the future of its healthcare community. In November 2018, Maine voters approved a $25 million bond investment in the University of Southern Maine (USM).
Specifically, the USM School of Nursing will receive $2.5 million in public and private funds to increase the number of learning opportunities for graduate and undergraduate nursing students. While some of the funds will lead to a new simulation center (“sim lab”), investments will also be made for new faculty and launching online graduate-level programs.
These programs are designed with students in mind, including affordable tuition and multiple start dates. They also meet the key educational criteria, so graduates can hit the ground running and pursue careers such as clinical nurse educator, clinical educator or nursing instructor.
Every Bit Helps
Overall, Brenda Peterson, PhD, MSN, RN, Associate Dean of the USM School of Nursing, says funding is instrumental in solving Maine’s nursing shortage. The developments will allow for a “major competitive advantage for USM, helping to attract high-quality students and provide innovative, inter-professional student learning experiences in state-of-the-art environments,” which is a huge step for the state of Maine to overcome its nursing and nursing faculty limitations.
If you’re interested in changing the future of Maine’s healthcare and patient communities, you can start today and make a significant difference in the lives of future nursing professionals.