The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) released on December 5th survey data that shows enrollment in RN to BSN online programs has increased by 5 percent over the past year. While this is good news, the AACN is very concerned about the high number of qualified students being turned away from nursing programs each year given the national nursing shortage. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) projects that more than one million, that’s 1,000,000, new Registered Nurses (RNs) will be needed in the U.S. healthcare system to meet the demand for nursing care by 2020.
AACN’s preliminary findings show that 32,323 qualified applications to entry-level baccalaureate programs were not accepted in 2006 based on responses from 449 schools. The primary barriers to accepting all qualified students at nursing colleges and universities continue to be the nurse educator shortage resulting in insufficient faculty, clinical placement sites and classroom space.
Given the demands of today’s health care system, the greatest need in the nursing workforce is for nurses prepared at the baccalaureate and higher degree levels. With the government calling for baccalaureate preparation for at least two thirds of the nursing workforce, the evidence clearly shows that higher levels of nursing education are linked with lower patient mortality rates, fewer errors and greater job satisfaction among RNs.