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How the Nurse Faculty Shortage Is Impacting Healthcare and What Nurses Can Do About It

Those who work in commerce are well aware of the delicate balance between supply and demand. Stock too many items — or too few — and there's a problem. The same philosophy applies to other industries, including healthcare.

Currently, healthcare is facing a significant supply issue and it's not a matter of overstocking. Instead, the nursing shortage is in a full domino effect, starting at the top with nurse educators.

How Bad Is It?

The latest data on the nursing shortage is alarming. In February 2021, research coming out of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a need for 1.1 million new registered nurses (RNs) by 2022 to fill the void. In 2022, the issue has become even more concerning.

The shortage stems from a multitude of factors:

  • significant numbers of nurses retiring
  • healthcare needs are growing, especially within the Baby Boomer generation
  • people have broadened access to care, due to the Affordable Care Act
  • burnout is pushing nurses to leave the field
  • the pool of nurse faculty is shrinking

The National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP) highlights retirement as a major contributing factor for the limited number of nursing faculty. According to the NACNEP's research, almost one in three nurse faculty members in 2015 are set to retire by 2025. That means 30% of the force will exit the profession in just under three years.

Other factors contributing to faculty shortages include lack of funds to hire faculty, fewer recruitment opportunities due to the competitive marketplace, scarcity of qualified teachers in certain geographical regions and faculty resignations.  

Qualified Applicants Have Nowhere to Turn

With a shrinking supply of nurse educators, few will remain to train the upcoming class of registered nurses. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that in 2020, nursing schools rejected 66,274 nursing applications for entry into a generic baccalaureate program. Areas affected most by rejection were the western and southern states, with vacancy rates of 7.4 and 7.1, respectively.

Nearly half of the AACN's 2020 survey respondents said that the rejections were due to an "insufficient number of faculty," among other reasons such as slashed budgets and fewer available clinical sites.

Within the Problem Resides a Solution

The phrase "not all heroes wear capes" applies largely to the healthcare field, as a hero is any RN who answers the call for more nurse faculty. The average salary for a nursing faculty member is advantageous, and Salary.com calculates the median starting salary for nurse faculty professionals with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree to be approximately $98,720 per year. With experience, that amount increases.

Another incentive to this position is the vast number of positions available for nurse educators. While the industry is in desperate need of nursing educators, that means job opportunity is high for nurses compelled to be a part of the solution. Additionally, nurses who have pursued a career path beyond the baccalaureate level report that job satisfaction is a major reinforcer for joining the field of nursing education. This point is highly relevant, as burnout has been trending up in the nursing field.

Online MSN Program Incentives: Convenience, Flexibility, Affordability

Most nursing educator positions require candidates to hold an MSN degree. Yet, earning an MSN in Nursing Education has never been more accessible for working RNs. Online programs allow for convenience and flexibility, providing nurses the option to progress through their coursework in a manner that works best for them.

Motivated nursing education students also benefit from the accelerated pace of The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) online MSN program. Students can complete the MSN degree in as few as 19 months. UTA also extends multiple start dates to accommodate nurses' work/life schedules.

Financial investment is always an important consideration when deciding to pursue high education. UTA's mission is to remove cost as a barrier to success. The program's total tuition is $20,085, but nurses can pay per course. If institutions like UTA want to solve the nurse faculty shortage, it behooves them to lessen potential financial burdens.

Those interested in joining the push for nurse educators will benefit from an accelerated, advanced program like that at UTA.

Learn more about The University of Texas at Arlington's online MSN in Nursing Education program.


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