The article in the Times was nice, but as usual, did not address the real problem. First, there have always been waiting lists for nursing schools. In the 70s, 80s, and even 90s. When I went to school in the 80s, I went to a private college because the waiting list at the state school was too long, and you had to meet all sorts of criteria.
Second, in times of economic downturn, health professions always attract people. The dotcoms broke, unemployment is high, so nursing looks more attractive. You can always get a job, live where you want, etc. Not the best reasons for becoming a nurse, but still, that's why a lot of people do it.
Third, the reason for the nursing shortage is not a lack of students, not a lack of nurses, but a lack of tolerable places to work. And as long as working conditions remain as poor as they are, there will continue to be an exodus of nurses from the profession--or at least, from jobs where the shortage is most acutely felt, such as hospitals and LTC facilities.
I notice that the authors of this article mention retention as the last item. Yadda, yadda, haven't we been this route before? When a nursing shortage becomes bad enough, recruiters start getting out the bonuses, the big push is it "get" more students into nursing, while virtually nothing is done to retain staff. That recent thread about the nurse getting her finger bitten off by an abusive drunk patient, and now being blamed that it was her fault, says it all. Take a look at it if you haven't read it--it's an eye opener. Physical abuse, mental abuse, mandatory overtime, exposure to virulent microbes, unable to take breaks, having to work weekends/holidays, no support from management, having no one take your word for anything, being treated like a child, poor compensation, unsafe work conditions, too many patients (and if something happens, you're liable)--and yet, some think the solution to the shortage is just to recruit more students and offer more scholarships
. Nurses like the academics who wrote that article probably haven't set foot in a hospital in 50 years.
The shortage will only grow worse, as long as no one wants to address the real issues.