New Jersey takes action to avoid Nursing Shortage

Forty-six former nursing masters and doctoral students have been chosen to participate in the New Jersey Nursing Initiative.  The $22 million program, which is privately funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, has pledged to help solve the looming nursing shortage in the state. 

The 46 participants will be receiving a $50,000 stipend, along with full-rides to attend in-state schools.  However, they must teach nursing students at a New Jersey college for a minimum of three years after graduation. 

According to Susan Bakeswell-Sachs, director of the program and nursing dean at the College of New Jersey, women opting to enter different professional fields and a decline in scholarships for nursing students throughout the 1990s are two main causes of the current shortage.  In addition, Nurses who work in clinical settings make on average $50,000 more per year than a nurse educator. 

Even though studies from the early 2000s predicted nursing shortages within the next 15-20 years, enrollment in the field has dramatically increased.  However, the number of faculty and administrators cannot accommodate this influx.  In fact, roughly 50,000 nurse student applications are denied each year because of faculty shortages.

Billboards in Philadelphia are urging nurses to move into the classroom so that more aspiring nurses can be educated and the nursing shortage can be averted.  The recession plays a role in the shortage as well, but surprisingly a positive one.  Nurses who would otherwise be retired are still working due to financial constraints. In addition, nurses who had been temping part-time when the economy was in better shape have also started going back to full-time employment. According to Linda Aiken, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, believes that once the recession ends, the nursing shortage will most likely become a crisis as these older nurses begin to retire; add in Obama’s proposed health care plan to provide 47 million more Americans with health insurance, and the nursing shortage of today seems almost irrelevant.

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