Nursing Students Need More Teachers

When it comes to nursing programs, the student to teacher ratio is suffering. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported in "Special Survey on Vacant Faculty Positions for Academic Year 2009 – 2010" that the national faculty vacancy rate was 6.6 percent for nursing schools offering baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs.

During the 2009-2010 school year, 56 percent of schools had faculty vacancies, and were in need of additional faculty. When combined, the schools had a total of 803 vacant positions and a vacancy rate of 9.7 percent. Given the number of empty positions, one has to wonder why these nursing schools are not hiring. When it came to recruiting and retaining faculty, these schools reported facing some critical issues. Not surprisingly, the most reported issue was a monetary one, with 32 percent of schools having problems with noncompetitive salaries. Other issues had to do with educational qualifications, with 30.3 percent of schools saying that they had a limited pool of doctorally prepared faculty and 16.5 percent saying they could not find faculty with the right mix of specialties to fill positions.

When it comes is to educating the next generation of nurses, qualified instructors are not optional, so schools have the right to be picky about their employees. Nursing schools reported that educational attainment was extremely important when it came to finding qualified candidates to fill vacant positions. To be qualified teach nursing, one has to have earned an education on a master’s level. But many schools required more than that, 31.8 percent of schools preferred that candidates had earned a doctorate in addition to a master’s degree, and 58.8 percent required that they had. Requiring candidates to have completed higher levels of education may be due to the level they would be required to teach at. Of the vacant positions, 31.7 percent required teaching at the baccalaureate level, 29.7 percent at the baccalaureate and master’s level, 10.1 percent at the master’s and doctoral level. About 20.5 percent of the positions called for a faculty member to teach at all levels.

The faculty shortage is not only effecting the education of those who are in nursing school, but of those who are trying to get into it. In their 2009-2010 annual survey, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported that 54,991 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing programs. Of the schools who participated in the survey, 60.7 percent reported the primary reason they could not accept qualified students was due to shortages in faculty.

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