A new program offering an accelerated nursing degree aims to help more interested students enter the nursing profession, in response to current and predicted future nursing shortages. “More than 54,000 qualified applications to professional nursing programs were turned away in 2009,” according to data collected by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Many nursing programs lack the resources and qualified instructors to accommodate larger student populations, and have no choice but to turn applicants away.
Enrolling in nursing classes online is often a logical way for working nurses to earn the higher degree necessary to advance their career while they maintain their current job. But the unique format of online education can also help nurses develop advanced technology skills that can be particular useful in a modern healthcare setting.
RN to BSN online programs have become increasingly popular as many working nurses with lower-level degrees want to advance their careers. But in some states, many nurses fail to continue their education, leaving the majority of the workforce without the credentials necessary to work in management or education positions. In Florida, for example, only 41 percent of nurses hold either a baccalaureate or graduate degree as their highest level of education, compared to a national average of 50 percent. This is alarming for two major reasons:
Amidst a nursing shortage, nursing schools are being forced to reduce student enrollment due to budget limitations. Colleges and universities across the country are facing state budget cuts, which unfortunately force them to raise student tuition and limit program offerings. Cuts to nursing programs inconveniently come “amid a time of increased demand for nurses—a need that has only rise with the passing of health care reform, and an aging Baby Boomer population and nursing workforce.”
A growing number of healthcare facilities outside of hospitals are seeking nurses with advanced degrees who complete more than the minimum nursing school requirements, according to a study conducted by the Greater Cincinnati Health Council. The study shows that “RNs have been acquiring more education over the last few years.” Today, record numbers of nurses are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.
A predicted nursing shortage has been debated in the healthcare world as new legislation takes effect coinciding with the baby-boom generation’s approach of retirement age. Another explanation for the predicted shortage may be that traditionally, women pursued careers in nursing or education, unlike today when often even women at colleges with nursing programs choose to major in business or other areas. As overwhelming numbers of nurses and nursing educators retire in upcoming years, the nation may find itself in a nursing crisis.