Achieving health system reform goals will turn on investing in the education of a 21st-century health care workforce. However, as the United States tackles the workforce shortage that exacerbates the stress in the health care system, nursing programs across the country are rejecting qualified candidates because there is not enough faculty to teach them. Sixty-four percent of all nursing programs turn away qualified applicants. Pre-licensure nursing programs ─ which serve as the gateway into the nursing workforce ─ reject 72 percent of qualified applicants due to limited space.
NLN research on America’s nearly 60,000 nurse educators shows that a core cause of the shortage is an aging and overworked faculty who earn less than nurses entering clinical practice. Sixty percent of all full-time nurse faculty members are 45- to 60-years old. Fifty-five percent of nurse faculty say they are likely to leave academic nursing by 2020. The ongoing support from the Title VIII Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) is critical to filling this gap. In FY 2012, NFLP provided loans to 2,259 students pursuing faculty preparation. About 25 percent of these loans were awarded to underrepresented minorities.
Infrastructure development is critical to advancing the science of nursing education. This will increase the pool of nurse investigators and nurse educators, expand programs to develop partnerships between research-intensive environments and smaller colleges and universities, and promote career development for nurse-researchers.