More than 32,000 qualified U.S.nursing school applicants were turned away last year. That's the latest number from The American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
At Western Kentucky University, it's the same story.
Of the 260 applicants in the 2006 school year, more than half were turned away. The Nursing Department suggests Nurse Education as another option for disappointed students seeking Nursing as a career.
Donna Blackburn, Nursing Department Head at WKU, says the shortage is sparking many states to take a serious look at incentives for students.
"I know in Maryland they are working to give $15,000 increases in salary across the board to help retain nurses they have." Closer to home, Western was given $400,000 last year to help pay for the completion of Masters Degrees in order to teach.
In fact , 13 students received the money at $25,000 each to put toward their education.
Dr. Blackburn says all but one is going into Nursing Education, but, that won't solve the problem for WKU.
The Kentucky Board of Nursing allows 10 students per one faculty.
Which makes it difficult to split classes and attention evenly when the department still has three vacancies for educator nurses.
"It's tough trying to place them in a clinical environment so they can get the experience they need." Two major factors playing a role are age and salaries. Experts say the salaries are better working in the field than teaching about the field. Recent studies conducted by The
American Association of Colleges of Nursing states the average nurse educator is in their mid to late 50's and will most likely retire within the next 10 years.
Studies on the growing problem predict more than 3 million high schoolers will graduate in 2007. That's the largest class in U.S. history.
From years of reputation, many will be told to go into nursing for it's good pay and benefits, however, more than half will be turned away.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing: http://www.aacn.nche.edu
WKU Nursing Department: