Just thought some of you may be interested in the following article that appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitiution. This is particularly interesting to me since I'm attending Georga State University. Has anyone else noticed increases enrollment and interest at the nursing programs
in your area?
Nursing School Enrollment Up Recruitment Efforts Bring Desired Result (8/30/2002 10:00:00 AM)
Efforts to increase the number of practicing nurses in Georgia appear to be working with area nursing schools reporting higher-than-usual enrollments for the fall semester.
Many Atlanta-area colleges and universities had more applicants for their nursing programs this fall than they could accommodate. At some, enrollment in the undergraduate degree programs is higher than it has been since the early 1990s.
Additional scholarships for nursing students have spurred the increase, as well as increased attention to the shortage of health professionals. Recent surveys show that Georgia's nurse vacancy rate in public health care facilities is at 20 percent.
"There are a lot of things being done to showcase nursing, that we're at a crossroads," said Lydia McAllister, acting dean of the School of Health Sciences at Clayton College & State University. Clayton State enrolled 67 students in its fall class and has announced a second class to begin in January.
Nursing is a safe bet for students looking for a stable career in a poor economy, and schools are seeing many applicants who already hold college degrees in other fields. Graduates with bachelor's degrees in nursing can be state-certified as registered nurses or licensed practical nurses and can work in many different settings, including hospitals, doctor's offices, nursing homes and schools.
Also, college administrators say they believe Sept. 11 may have prompted more students to pursue careers in health care.
"I think 9/11 had an impact," said Marla Salmon, dean of the School of Nursing at Emory University. "People are seeking careers that have more meaning."
Emory is seeing an almost 50 percent increase in nursing school enrollment, from 59 students in fall 2001 to 78 students this year. Salmon said the school stepped up its recruiting for nursing school so it would have a broader field of qualified applicants from which to choose.
Georgia State University has nearly doubled the number of students in its undergraduate degree program, from 57 last year to 100 this fall. About a quarter of the students are in GSU's accelerated program, introduced this year, which will allow students to graduate in 15 months rather than two years.
The Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, which accepts undergraduate students after they have completed their core courses elsewhere, reports a 10 percent increase, with 315 students enrolling in the two-year bachelor of science program, compared with 287 last year.
Additional resources for nursing programs have made it easier financially for many students to attend college this year. In June, the University System of Georgia announced a partnership with Georgia hospitals that would direct $4.55 million to nursing programs at state schools over the next two years. Some of the money will be used for scholarships. Another state program offers a tuition rebate to students who agree to practice nursing in Georgia for three years after receiving their degree.
Private hospitals also have partnered with area nursing schools, providing scholarships to students who commit to work for them once they graduate. Some hospitals also are upgrading their equipment and providing flexible schedules --- perks that can go a long way toward attracting and keeping employees, said Alice Demi, director of the School of Nursing at Georgia State.
"It isn't just getting students into the nursing setting," Demi said. "We've got to keep them there."
John Orth is depending on grants and scholarships to pay his way through the accelerated nursing program at Georgia State. At 36, Orth already has a wife and two children, and has run his own martial arts school. A nursing degree will provide financial stability, he said.
"I can move anywhere, and the field is wide open," said Orth, who also plans to pursue a master's degree to become a nurse practitioner or anesthetist.
Nursing school administrators also hope some of the incoming students will continue on to higher degrees to become nurse educators, another field that has experienced a shortage in recent years. Emory's Salmon has lobbied state and federal legislators for incentives to lure nurses into the education field.
"That's going to have to be the second wave," said Salmon, who does not have enough faculty to increase student enrollment. "Unless we get funding for adult nurses to go back [for advanced degrees] we're going to hit the wall."
Copyright 2002 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution