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Nursing Program Capacity Still Constrained by Shortage of Faculty as Competition Grows for Admission into Master's and Doctoral Programs

Nursing Program Capacity Still Constrained by Shortage of Faculty as Competition Grows for Admission into Masters and Doctoral Programs

NLN Annual Survey Also Reveals Unremitting Demand for Pre-Licensure Program Entry

Student Demographics Continue to Shift


New York, NY — June 14, 2012 — Findings from the NLNs Annual Survey of Schools of Nursing Academic Year 2010-2011 attest to the continued need for more nurse faculty to meet the needs of our health care system. In announcing the results, NLN CEO Dr. Beverly Malone pointed out that while competition for spots in pre-licensure programs has always been intense, in 2011 the unmet demand for entry into post-licensure programs also increased.

The National League for Nursing's annual survey, administered from October to December 2011, illustrates the complex issues facing nursing education in the United States. The percentage of programs that turned away qualified applicants rose among every post-licensure program type between 2009 and 2011. Most strikingly, the percentage of MSN programs turning away qualified applicants jumped by 15 percent over the past two years from just one in three programs to almost half in 2011. These trends threaten to perpetuate a vicious cycle, constraining the number of graduates prepared to take on faculty roles in nursing schools.

In other troubling news from the survey, the percentage of racial-ethnic minority students enrolled in pre-licensure RN programs went from a high of 29 percent in 2009 to 24 percent in 2011. The majority of that decline stems from a steep reduction in African American students enrolled in associate degree nursing programs, which dropped by almost 5 percent to 8.6 percent in just two years. Additionally, Hispanics remain dramatically underrepresented among nursing students, representing a mere 6 percent of baccalaureate and associate degree nursing students.

Said NLN president Judith Halstead, PhD, RN, FAAN, "While educational capacity is still insufficient to keep up with demand, several promising trends were uncovered by the survey. For example, the percentage of male pre-licensure graduates in 2011 was up to 15 percent after inching up only a percentage point a year since 2009. In addition, the percentage of pre-licensure RN students over age 30 has declined in recent years."

For a comprehensive set of tables and figures in a variety of easy-to-use electronic formats and for the NLN Annual Survey Executive Summary, visit NLN DataViewâ„¢.

Editors and reporters: For interview opportunities, please contact NLN chief communications officer Karen R. Klestzick at 212-812-0376 or

Dedicated to excellence in nursing, the National League for Nursing is the premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education. The NLN offers professional development, networking opportunities, testing services, nursing research grants, and public policy initiatives to its 37,000 individual and 1,200 institutional members. NLN members represent nursing education programs across the spectrum of higher education and health care organizations and agencies.