Nurse Educator Void in Tennessee

Too few nurses and too few people to teach them are problems that plague the healthcare industry today.

Tennessee needs to fill nearly 400 nursing faculty positions by 2010 to help with teaching shortages. The state may have a solution to the problem and is now paying nurses to become nurse educators. Hospitals and educators have worked feverishly to try to attract students to alleviate a shortage of nurses. Now, they're seeing a new shortage of nursing faculty. The lack of teachers is causing more nursing school applicants to be turned away. Nearly 2,400 were turned away last year in Tennessee because the state doesn't have faculty to train them.

Governor Bredesen has introduced a program he hopes will help alleviate the nursing shortage and encourage more RNs to go into teaching. Those who do, will have a quarter of their student loans forgiven for each year they teach at a Tennessee nursing school. About $1 million of the $1.4 million needed to launch the new program has been raised from the health care industry. It'll pay for 100 registered nurses to obtain the two-year graduate degrees they need to qualify for teaching positions.

Last year, Tennessee hospitals reported almost 2,000 vacant registered nurse positions.

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