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Nursing School Graduations on the Rise, but Nurse Faculty Shortage Intensifies

In 2007, nursing school enrollment grew by nearly 5 percent, representing a positive trend for the seventh consecutive year. However, many individuals seeking to enter the profession are being turned away by nursing schools.

According to data released this month by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), more than 30,000 qualified applicants were turned away from baccalaureate nursing programs last year due to a growing shortage of nurse faculty.In addition, the rate at which nursing schools have been able to increase student capacity has declined sharply since 2003 due partly to insufficient clinical placement sites and classroom space.

"A successful solution to the shortage of nurses and nurse faculty will require a collaborative effort on the part of the nursing profession, the health care system, the federal government, businesses, and all stakeholders," said Jeanette Lancaster, AACN president. "Together, we must remove barriers to pursuing nursing education, provide incentives for nurses to advance their education, facilitate careers in academic nursing, and create practice environments that encourage professional practice and respect educational achievement."

Despite faculty shortage and nursing school capacity issues, interest in the nursing profession remains strong as a result of successful public awareness programs such as The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing's Future whose Promise of Nursing galas have raised in excess of $12 million for nursing scholarships, faculty fellowships and nursing school programs. In fact, more than 500,000 men and women have entered the nursing profession over the last five years.

By the year 2020, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) projects that more than one million new registered nurses (RNs) will be needed in the U.S. health care system to meet the demand for nursing care. HRSA projects that nursing schools must increase the number of graduates by 90 percent in order to adequately address the nursing shortage.

"We don't believe it to be a coincidence that more of today's students are choosing a career in nursing," said Andrea Higham, director of The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing's Future. "We've made great progress, but much more work remains to be done in order for us to meet growing demands on our health care system."

Rachael Ray Gift Makes Holiday Season Bright for Georgia Nurses

For 25 years, 13 CobbCountySchool District travel nurse specialists - who case manage "medically fragile" or special education students - have functioned within a structurally inadequate and deteriorating facility in Kennesaw , Georgia .

These nurses and their school system, always putting students' needs first, ranked the design, work space and aesthetics of their office environment as a lower priority.

But the outdated and cramped work space hampered their ability to deliver the best care to these same students. That is until they received the surprise of their dreams - an office makeover from the Rachael Ray show.

In collaboration with HGTV's "Design on a Dime" designer Kristan Cunningham, the nurses' offices in an old school house were transformed with extra space, a raised ceiling, new air conditioning system, flooring, phone system and computers at each desk.

Prior to the renovation, "Our office was not handicap accessible; so students in wheelchairs or with walkers had to be evaluated elsewhere," explained Nurse Cheryl Wagnon. "It was difficult to talk on the phone because there were too many people in one room, and our staff meeting had to be held elsewhere. With too few computers, it was always a race to get to one first."

CobbCountySchool District travel nurses in Kennesaw , Georgia will enjoy this newly redesigned facility, courtesy of the Rachael Ray show and HGTV's Kristan Cunningham.

n addition, Band-Aids on wall cracks, fans clipped to IV poles, a hot pink hard hat to the nurse whose desk was in the 'falling box zone', describes the old and undersupplied facility.

Operating in their newly transformed facility, Wagnon believes the nurses will be able to provide the highest quality care in a more efficient and effective manner for Georgia 's second largest public school system. "Having this fabulous new office has boosted morale by providing us with the professional working environment that we need to get the job done," exclaimed Wagnon.


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