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NLN Data Show Capacity Shortages Easing in Nursing Programs

NLN Announces 2013 Academy of Nursing Education Fellows

Percentage of Minorities Enrolled in Post-Licensure Programs Rises Lack of Clinical Settings Still Crimps Entry into PN and ADN Programs


New York, NY — June 25, 2013 — This years NLN Annual Survey of Schools of Nursing finds the nations nursing education capacity expanding and some of the long-standing unmet demand for seats in nursing schools beginning to subside. Waiting lists for entry into nursing programs were persistently long throughout the late-2000s, with both national statistics, as well as news reports and anecdotes from around the country, describing a widespread lack of capacity in nursing education programs.

"This is encouraging news," said NLN president Judith Halstead, PhD, RN, FAAN, ANEF. "Just two years ago the percentage of nursing programs that turned away qualified applicants was peaking across all types of nursing education programs, including almost two thirds of baccalaureate programs."

Added NLN CEO Dr. Beverly Malone, "In that same year, 2011, almost half of doctoral programs rejected qualified applicants. With the importance of academic progression and a continuing need for doctorally prepared nurse faculty, we are pleased to note that this rejection rate has now dropped from 43 to 37 percent, though clearly we still have a long way to go. While the percentage of all types of programs citing a faculty shortage has declined since peaking in 2009, graduate programs continue to cite a lack of faculty as the primary obstacle to expansion."

While a shortage of nurse educators continues to frustrate the expansion plans of many nursing programs, this years survey offers evidence that the long-term outlook may be improving. In a special section devoted to faculty hiring, the survey reports 73 percent of responding schools had hired new full (in rank) faculty in the past 12 months. When asked to rank criteria used in faculty hiring, the top three, in order of importance, were: ability to teach particular course work, ability to communicate effectively, and having formal, graduate-level teacher training. The ability to work well with others and having a doctoral degree were intermediate considerations, ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.

In other good news culled from the survey, the percentage of minorities enrolled in most types of post-licensure programs rose notably in 2012. RN-to-BSN programs exhibited the largest uptick, with minority enrollment gaining four percentage points to reach 26 percent. Doctoral programs also saw a gain of four percentage points, with more than one in five students (22 percent) belonging to a minority group in 2012. Minority enrollment in masters programs held steady at 24 percent.

Unfortunately, one element continues to mar the upbeat outlook: the shortage of clinical placement settings, which in particular negatively affects the expansion of PN and ADN programs. Since 2010, the percentage of ADN and PN program directors who cited a shortage of clinical sites as the primary impediment to expansion has steadily increased. For PN programs in particular, the percentage jumped to 52 percent in 2012, a 10 percent rise over 2011 levels.

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 DataView.

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.