The Advantages of Non-traditional Programs as a Practical Solution to the Nursing Shortage.
There is a critical shortage of registered nurses in the United States right now. This shortage must be addressed, and soon. As the population continues to age and baby boomers retire, the need for qualified nurses will continue to grow. The nursing shortage has brought many minds together to try and come up with innovative solutions to address this shortage. The government, hospitals, and private organizations are all concerned and brainstorming for solutions. Nontraditional education will play a significant role in satisfying the increasing demand for nurses. Current Statistics on the nursing shortage are somewhat dismal:
- The American Health Care Association reports in July 2008 that more than 19,400 registered nursing vacancies exist in long-term care settings and 116,000 in hospital settings.
- The registered nursing shortage could be as high as half a million by 2025.
- The Council on Physician and Nurse Supply released a statement in July 2008 determining that 30,000 additional nurses need to graduate annually to meet the United State’s health care needs. This would be 30% over the current rate of registered nursing graduates.
- According to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published in the November of 2007 Monthly Labor Review more than one million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2016.
So what are the primary causes for the nursing shortage? And what can we do about it? Here are a few of the practical reasons for the shortage :
- According to the AACN’s report on 2008-2009 Enrollment and Graduation in Baccalaureate and graduate programs in Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away 49,948 qualified applicants from baccalaureate programs due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors and budget constraints.
- Almost two-thirds of the nursing schools reporting to the AACN’s survey pointed to faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants.
- In today’s world, many adults are not able to attend traditional nursing schools and universities which is forcing state nursing boards to ask themselves, “What is the Future of Associate Degree Nursing Programs?” The answer is acknowledging that the need for alternative nursing education is paramount.
According to national statistics, traditional universities and nursing schools are not able to consistently recruit faculty, staff and students to keep up with the national need. Traditional education is quite expensive requiring both day and evening hours for staff without commensurate compensation.
What’s the long-term solution?
Being able to recruit and retain registered nursing students in today’s high-tech, modern society is a multi-faceted and sometimes complex issue. Hospitals, nursing organizations, and nurses must embrace these changes if we are to see long-term solutions. Potential nursing students are reluctant to commit to traditional programs for a myriad of reasons, both practical and theoretical.
Examining the differences between traditional and nontraditional schooling will help to clarify the reasons potential students would favor the nontraditional route.
|Traditional schooling||Non-traditional schooling|
|Hours/schedule||On a linear track, daytime hours and inflexible schedule. May have to change work and family needs to conform to schooling||Flexible, you decide how and when to study and can work around family and work obligations|
|Length of time to complete degree||usually linear, clearly defined and full-time course load.Often inflexible||Flexible, “work at your own pace” both part- and full time opportunities. Ability to take breaks to attend to other obligations and priorities|
|Cost||Prices vary, usually between $5,000 and over $20,00 for just tuition and book fees||Tuition and fees between $5,000 and $20,000. Very limited costs for transportation, rooming and board. Books and resource materials often available for online use|
|Personal considerations||Required daily driving, possible long commute, takes significant additional time away from work and family. Classes must be attending at the school||Can be completed in your own home, no commute time, flexible schedule around family and job obligations. Can take classes anywhere with “virtual” classrooms|
|Environmental issues||Environmental Pollution from car exhaust due to travel large paper usage, waste products and other environmental factors. Large overhead expenses for utilities and upkeep of facilities||Little transportation or pollution, gas usage, paper use or output for either students or faculty. Minimal overhead costs, no maintenance required of virtual or online classes|
|Technology considerations||Mostly text- book usage and hardcopy. Students may be behind in current technological advances compared to online students.||Able to keep current with computer and online technology; as courses and testing is offered this way.|
Because of the obvious benefits nontraditional education offers potential students it will continue to grow and has a significant place in addressing the nursing shortage. Emphasizing traditional nursing education severely limits the pool of potential students, often times those who would make the most dedicated and competent nurses. Solutions are not simple or linear, but if institutions and policy-makers keep in mind some of the major priorities of the contemporary student such as the need for flexibility, continuous class-room availability, staff support (on-line access), affordable costs, around-the-clock assistance (with RN Bridge Program), and availability to work at your own pace, nursing would have many more prospective students.
(If you are interested in becoming a nurse in as little as half the time and half the cost of traditional programs (or even conventional online nursing programs) let RN Bridge Program make it happen. With our video based learning system to lay down your Associate degree nursing framework, getting your accredited nursing degree will easily dovetail with the busy life you already have.)