Nurse school entry harder

A nursing shortage has resulted in more applications to nursing schools.

Naomi Scott

Mary DeRocher said she’s a little anxious about being admitted to the University’s School of Nursing.

DeRocher, an engineering sophomore, said she has heard getting into the school is very difficult because it does not have enough nursing professors.

A recent nationwide nursing shortage has resulted in more applications to nursing schools. But the University’s School of Nursing, like many nursing schools around the country, has had to deny more applicants each year, in part because of a faculty shortage.

Problems

Mary Pattock, the University’s School of Nursing communications director, said there is not only a nursing shortage but also a shortage of nursing faculty members.

However, some nurses will go back to school to get teaching degrees, she said.

“But it takes awhile to become a professor – for them to go through the education,” she said.

Cheryl Leuning, a professor and nursing department chairwoman at Augsburg College, said another reason nursing faculty members are in demand is that nurses who teach in higher education aren’t paid very well.

“Working in a hospital is very attractive, because they can usually offer higher salaries than academic institutions,” she said.

Pattock said money is “absolutely” a reason why nurses choose to be in a clinical setting rather than an academic one.

Sharon Nellis, assistant dean of the undergraduate programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s nursing school, said the school is limited in the number of applicants it can admit because of a lack of resources.

The Wisconsin university’s nursing school needs more faculty members and more clinical sites, where nursing students spend time as part of their education, Nellis said.

At the University of Minnesota, there are other reasons besides faculty shortages as to why the admissions process is becoming more competitive, Patton said.

The University of Minnesota does not have adequate classroom space and modern equipment to accommodate more students, she said.

In the bonding bill, the University of Minnesota requested modernized and expanded facilities in the School of Nursing, she said.

Also, Pattock said, many of the clinical settings nursing students are required to participate in have received financial cuts. As a result, the clinics are unable to educate as many student nurses, she said.

Tom Bofferding, a second-year nursing student and the University of Minnesota Nursing College Board’s vice president and treasurer, said it is “unbelievably unfortunate” the clinical sites lack sufficient funding.

“It hampers the ability of those hospitals to teach those future nurses,” he said.

Bofferding said he is supervised by a School of Nursing instructor and a nurse from the clinic at his clinical sites.

Solutions

The University of Minnesota has been able to accommodate increased enrollment somewhat by opening a satellite nursing school in Rochester, Minn., Pattock said.

The School of Nursing is also developing a program that encourages more nursing professors to engage themselves in clinical settings, she said.

“They can take advantage of the clinical experience while they teach,” she said.

DeRocher said she realizes nurses want to be in a clinical setting because they are paid more there than as professors.

Although she wants to be in a clinical setting when she becomes a nurse, DeRocher said, she has “definitely considered” become a nursing professor because the need is there.

“Maybe teachers need to get paid more,” she said. “Maybe they need some incentive to teach.”