WASHINGTON, D.C., April 23, 2009 - The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is pleased to announce the development of the first national Centralized Application Service for students applying to nursing programs with an anticipated start date of Spring 2010. This application service, similar to ones already in place for medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, will provide applicants with a convenient way to apply to multiple nursing programs and serve as a mechanism to fill vacant seats in schools of nursing.
"Maximizing capacity in schools of nursing is essential to meeting the nation's current and future demand for registered nurses," said AACN President Fay Raines. "The new application service will enable U.S. nursing schools to maximize capacity by admitting more qualified applicants and filling all available seats in entry-level and graduate nursing programs."
The new service, called Nursing CAS, will offer prospective nursing students the option of completing one standardized application that can be disseminated to multiple schools for consideration. Applicants to nursing programs offered at the associates, baccalaureate, and graduate degree levels pay a small fee for this service. Fees become progressively lower per application depending upon how many are sent. Students only need to prepare one application, including one set of transcripts and letters of reference, and this information is then distributed to all designated schools of nursing participating in Nursing CAS either locally or nationally.
The need for Nursing CAS emerged from AACN's desire to ensure that more students seeking a nursing education are accommodated in existing programs. AACN has documented that thousands of qualified nursing school applicants are turned away from nursing schools each year, even though many schools have vacant seats to fill. According to AACN's 2008 annual survey, more than 12,000 vacant seats were reported in nursing schools, including 6,000 in undergraduate programs and 6,000 in graduate programs. This number is startling considering the fact that 49,948 qualified applications were turned away from nursing schools during this same time period. AACN's goal with Nursing CAS is to steer students toward these vacancies and fill every available seat.
Creating a national centralized application service will benefit nursing schools and the profession as a whole. Nursing schools, many of which are currently inundated with applications, will benefit from the efficiencies gained by standardizing the nursing entry process and having real-time access to pre-screened and verified applicant data. Schools also will be able to select from a wider, more diverse pool of students, which will be helpful in meeting recruitment goals. Participation in the centralized application service will be free and voluntary to schools of nursing.
In terms of benefits to the profession, Nursing CAS will be instrumental in providing accurate data needed to identify workforce trends and inform public policy decisions. The comprehensive data set that results from having a central entry point into registered nursing programs will assist with developing workforce projections, identifying employment patterns, and tailoring recruitment strategies to reach under-represented populations in nursing. Finally, this service will provide health profession advisors with feedback on admissions trends and standards for the profession, which will help advisors steer bright, qualified students into nursing programs.
AACN is working with the firm Liaison International to roll out Nursing CAS by Spring 2010. Liaison is the nation's leading provider of centralized application services to health professions associations, and they currently work with many other disciplines, including dentistry, pharmacy, physician assistants, and public health. "Liaison is excited to partner with AACN on such an important project. We believe that a centralized application service is a natural next step towards advancing the nursing profession," says Liaison President and CEO George Haddad. More than 300 nursing programs are located in academic institutions that participate in a centralized application service with another discipline. Consequently, many schools of nursing are already well-positioned to readily adopt this service.
AACN has formed an advisory group to complete the work necessary to establishing the centralized application service. Led by Dr. Timothy Gaspar, dean of the University of Toledo College of Nursing, the group includes representatives from both the West Texas Nursing Education Consortium (WTNEC) and the New Jersey Nursing Initiative. WTNEC successfully launched an application service in January 2009 for nursing students interested in applying to schools in West Texas. Eleven schools of nursing are now participating in this service, which has already processed almost 2,000 applications (see https://portal.wtnec.org
). The New Jersey Nursing Initiative, a joint project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, is designed to transform nursing education in the state and ensure that New Jersey has a well-prepared and diverse nurse faculty and the nursing workforce necessary to meet the demands for health care in the 21st century (see http://www.njni.org
"AACN is so pleased that our colleagues in West Texas, true pioneers in this important work, and New Jersey are coming together to ensure that the national Nursing CAS is successful and complements these important regional efforts," added Dr. Raines. "We are committed to working with our colleagues and interested stakeholders to ensure that the new application service meets local, state, and national needs."
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for university and four-year college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 640 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide, AACN's educational, research, governmental advocacy, data collection, publications, and other programs work to establish quality standards for bachelor's- and graduate-degree nursing education, assist deans and directors to implement those standards, influence the nursing profession to improve health care, and promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice.