Nursing Notes

October 8, 2009

State universities turning away qualified student nursing applicants

This article just underscores part of the ongoing nursing crisis.  I really don’t think anyone realizes the depth and breadth of the problem facing nursing and healthcare at this point. 

Nurses, working out on the front lines of nursing care, are screaming about overburdened staffing ratios, patients receiving unacceptable care, leaving the profession.  I know that the general public is getting tired of hearing us.  However, the fact remains that nurses are who keep hospitals in business, not doctors.  Nurses are the ones taking care of critical patients who are unable to speak for themselves and dealing with the difficult cases daily.  Nurses are the ones talking with the families, helping to educate them on how to care for their family member at home, nurses are monitoring the care being given.

What will we do when there are no more nurses?

October 8, 2009
By Angeline J. Taylor

Aspiring nurses interested in applying to programs at Florida’s 11 public universities are stuck in a quagmire that will eventually affect the quality of health care throughout the state, according to nursing school deans and the Florida Center for Nursing.

About half of the qualified student nursing applicants were turned away this fall from the University of Florida, Florida State, Florida A&M and Florida International universities, deans and associate deans said.

It’s one thing to turn away an applicant who is not qualified, they said. But highly qualified applicants are being rejected.

There aren’t enough training sites in the schools’ respective cities to properly educate students — Tallahassee included.

Even if there were enough hospitals or health-care facilities to properly serve as training sites, there aren’t enough qualified nursing faculty in the public university system, said Divina Grossman, chairwoman of the Florida Association of Colleges of Nursing and dean of FIU’s College of Nursing.

“It’s very difficult attracting people to academia,” Grossman said. “The disparity in pay is quite large.

“Grossman said a registered nurse who is qualified to teach earns more money outside of the university’s classroom setting — as much as $80,000-$100,000. Grossman faces the daunting task of hiring four faculty members in the Miami area for a salary of $45,000 a year.

She’s not alone. Lisa Plowfield, FSU’s dean of nursing, and UF’s Karen Miles face similar problems.

“The economy has really affected us because people are not willing to move. We have been unable to fill positions for several years,” said Miles, associate dean for academics and student affairs at UF’s College of Nursing.

The Florida Center for Nursing reports, “Advanced practice degree programs are growing rapidly while teaching and research-focused preparation over time is declining. Over time, this will set the stage for a crippling faculty shortage.

“The center recommends that “faculty salaries must be more competitive with those earned in advance practice.

“Said Plowfield: “More faculty are needed to serve more students.

“This fall, 213 qualified applicants applied to FSU. About 100 were accepted, Plowfield said. At UF, Miles said 586 applicants sought entry into the College of Nursing. Of that number, about 303 students were qualified but only 129 were accepted.

FAMU’s nursing program can accept only 50 in the fall and in the spring, said Ruena Norman, interim dean of FAMU’s School of Nursing.

“You can’t just send a large number of students into clinical (teaching) sites,” Norman said.

State guidelines require student-to-teacher ratio be between 1:8 or 1:12, depending on the health-care facility.

“It’s really for the safety of the client,” Norman said.

The Florida Center for Nursing said the state is “facing a critical breakdown in (its) health-care system.

“The breakdown can arguably be attributed to a lack of faculty and the state’s inability to make nursing education a priority in tough economic times.

According to FCN, by 2010 the shortage of full-time registered nurses will be 18,000. A decade later, the shortage will increase by as much as 52,000.

“With the changes in unemployment and the lack of insurance, people are starting to put off care,” Plowfield said. “That’s the very confusing nature of the nursing shortage. We’re just not meeting as many health-care needs — and they are there.” | Printer-friendly article page

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