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More Interest But Still Not Enough Nurses

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

May 2, 2005

It's been described as the worst nursing shortage in American history. Research suggests that at this rate we will be short one-third the number of nurses needed by 2020. A major factor is that enrollment dropped significantly in nursing schools from 1995-2000.

"Now they've been rising for the past five years, but to make up for an overall 35 percent decline takes a lot of time," said Jeanette Lancaster, Dean of the UVA School of Nursing.

Lancaster attributes this rise to better marketing and publicity. The rise is so great that the University of Virginia has: "huge numbers of applicants, but we don't' have the places to put them," said Lancaster.

"This year we had 327 applications, so our applications have more than doubled in four years," explained Assistant Dean Theresa Carroll, who has reviewed applications for the past four years.

To feed the demand for nurses, teachers must set-up an efficient curriculum. Meet the students' best and most demanding patient: Mr. Sim Man, also named "Hoo man," a simulation mannequin used for instruction. He breathes, needs treatments, and even tells you when he's uncomfortable.

The instructor can control the symptoms while students have to figure out how to help him. It's simulation technology like this that helps nursing students learn better and faster.

"It helps learn probably faster, but also with more reinforcement," said Lancaster.

Re-enforcement and small group teaching is only possible if student to faculty ratios remain low, and to do this schools must increase numbers [of faculty], or the shortage will more than likely continue.

The University sent out acceptance letters on May 1, increasing their first-year class by eight as well as eight more transfer students.


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