With nurses leaving the profession every day and not enough nurses entering it, nursing schools are trying to boost their enrollment numbers. According to the study “2008-2009 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing” by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, they are slowly succeeding.
Nursing schools are boosting enrollment on the baccalaureate level. In the 2008-2009 academic year, schools with entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs experienced a 9.6 percent increase in completed applications, totaling 208,784. The acceptance rate of these applicants equals 42 percent with 130,601 students meeting admission criteria and 87,620 being accepted. According to the survey, enrollment is significantly increasing with total enrollment in all baccalaureate programs equaling 214,533 students, compared to 201,407 in 2008. Nursing schools are also making efforts to boost enrollment in accelerated nursing programs for individuals who have already earned degrees in other academic fields. Twelve new accelerated programs for a baccalaureate nursing degree were launched in 2008, totaling 230 programs. More programs may help increase enrollment, currently a increased number of 11,960 students are enrolled compared to 11,018 in 2008.
With shortages in faculty, nursing specialists, and advanced nurses, nursing schools are also trying to boost enrollment in their higher-level degree nursing programs. In the 2007-2008 academic year, 69,565 students were enrolled in master’s programs, an increase of 10.9 percent from the previous year. Nursing schools experienced a 12.8 percent increase in the number of graduates from master’s programs with 17,247 nursing students receiving a diploma. To further boost the enrollment of students studying nursing on this level, fifty-seven accelerated master’s degree programs are now available. These accelerated programs currently enroll 4,577 students and 1,177 students graduated last year.
Boosting enrollment in doctoral nursing programs and research-focused doctoral programs is also crucial. Nursing schools are trying to boost enrollment in doctoral degree nursing programs, as there is a need for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to fill faculty positions, nursing research scientists, nursing specialists, and primary care providers. From 2007 to 2008 the number of students in doctoral programs increased by 20.9 percent, with an overwhelming majority of the growth occurring in Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs. The number of students enrolled in these programs almost doubled by 82 percent, going from 1,874 to 3,415 students, but enrollment in research-focused doctoral programs only increased by 0.1 percent with a total of 3,976 students. To encourage higher enrollment numbers the amount of available research-focused doctoral programs are increasing, with 120 of them currently enrolling students and eight others being developed.