The United States healthcare system faces an ongoing nursing crisis characterized by an alarming shortage of nurses. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shortage grew even more severe, prompting concern from healthcare professionals and the public.
Why is there such a significant shortage, and how can master’s-prepared nurse educators play a pivotal role in resolving it? An advanced nursing online degree in nursing education is key to the answer.
What Is Causing the Nursing Shortage?
There are many root causes of the nursing shortage. Research from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) reveals startling figures. Approximately 100,000 nurses left the profession during the COVID-19 pandemic due to stress, burnout, or retirement. An additional 900,000 nurses are projected to leave the profession by 2027.
Such an exodus is likely due to the increased workload, emotional strain and the physical toll of managing a global health crisis. Many nurses are reaching retirement age, which also contributes to the shortage.
Who will fill the void? Unfortunately, a lack of enrollees in nursing programs is compounding the problem. This is not necessarily due to a lack of interest among prospective nursing students. Rather, nursing students are experiencing challenges in entering nursing programs.
Why Are Nursing Programs Accepting Fewer Students?
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), thousands of qualified nursing students were not accepted to nursing school in 2022.
Results from AACN’s Fall 2022 survey showed a 1.4% drop in Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program enrollments, translating into 3,518 fewer students between 2021 and 2022. This is the first instance of a decline in these programs since the turn of the millennium. In stark contrast, from 2001 to 2021, the number of students in entry-level BSN programs surged from 77,958 to 256,578.
A persistent shortage of nurse educators exists. This shortage among nurse educators means there are not enough qualified professionals to teach the next generation of nurses, leading to an even larger gap in the workforce. With qualified applicants struggling to start graduate programs, the potential pool of future nurse educators remains limited.
Increasing Numbers of MSN-Prepared Nurse Educators: A Viable Solution to the Nursing Shortage
Increasing the number of master’s-prepared nurse educators can help combat the nursing shortage. With coursework in learning theories, assessment, evaluation, and curriculum design, MSN Nurse Educator graduates are prepared to help students acquire the essential knowledge and skills needed to begin their nursing career.
With more MSN-prepared nurse educators, nursing programs can expand their intake, increasing the number of graduate nurses ready to enter the workforce.
Role of Online MSN in Nursing Education Programs in Addressing the Nursing Shortage
Given the demanding nature of nursing, many nurses find it challenging to pursue advanced degrees through traditional means. This is where online programs come into play, like The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) online MSN in Nursing Education program. This program provides a flexible, accessible path for working nurses to advance their careers. By pursuing an online MSN in Nursing Education degree, nurses can become educators without leaving their current positions.
Why choose an online program? Online platforms cater to a broader demographic, allowing nurses from different geographical regions and with varying work schedules to access quality education. This flexibility could be the key to increasing the pool of MSN-prepared nurse educators and, subsequently, the number of nurses entering the workforce.
Luckily, UTA’s program is that much more accessible for those who want to pursue a nurse educator role. With affordable, pay-as-you-go tuition and straightforward requirements (online application, official transcripts and an active RN license), students can easily apply.
MSN-Prepared Nurses: The Answer the Healthcare Industry Needs
The nursing shortage is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. Increasing the number of MSN-prepared nurse educators is crucial to addressing the shortage of nurses and nurse educators. By offering accessible online MSN programs, institutions can provide a pathway for more nurses to become educators, ensuring a brighter, more stable future for healthcare in the U.S.