Nursing Education and the Recession - Tough Economic Times

  1. The recession has definitely left its mark on universities and community colleges. Funding is being slashed, educators' salaries are frozen, faculty workloads are increasing, supplies are in short demand, and fear and uncertainty abound.

    The State Constitution of North Carolina requires a balanced budget each year (unlike our federal government). There is an estimated $3 billion shortfall this fiscal year. State employees are currently being required to "give back" to the state 0.5% of their salaries, to help make up for this fiduciary crisis. This is in exchange for a "furlough" of 10 hours, which most educators will never see.

    The latest projected cuts to education in North Carolina (for the year 2010-2011) are most disconcerting - a projected decrease in funding for 2010-11 by $59.2 million. This translates to:
    • 16.1% cut from the state university system
    • 14.2% cut from the state community college system
    • 14.2% cut from the state public school system

    Some sources of financial aid to students have dried up, but others remain available (such as Stafford Loans).

    In my college of nursing, we are restricted on photocopying, travel, and use of supplies. We are rationing paper and ink cartridges. Workloads have increased. Nursing classes have been doubled in size. Students are packed in classrooms like sardines. People are very worried that actual job cuts (to faculty and staff) are next.

    I consider myself most fortunate to still have a job that I love in the midst of this terrible recession.

    Our graduates are having difficulty finding employment. Only 40% of the latest group of graduates (May) have found nursing jobs. Many have placed applications at multiple facilities, including longterm care, with little success.

    How is your school of nursing faring in these tough financial times?
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 17, '18
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    About VickyRN

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    26 Comments

  3. by   oramar
    I wonder at which school or university she works. What good is it "packing students in like sardines" when the ones that just graduated don't have jobs?
  4. by   VickyRN
    The point was not increased enrollment, Oramar - enrollment is the same. To save money, classes are doubled up, instead of being broken up into two sections. These huge classes make a difficult learning environment.
  5. by   oramar
    Quote from VickyRN
    The point was not increased enrollment, Oramar - enrollment is the same. To save money, classes are doubled up, instead of being broken up into two sections. These huge classes make a difficult learning environment.
    Oh OK, I missed that. Sorry, took it the wrong way. Thought they had doubled their enrollment because nursing is supposed to be a "recession proof career".
    Last edit by oramar on Jun 12, '09
  6. by   Moogie
    I'm glad I quit teaching. The salary was horrible, considering the hours that I worked, and I cannot imagine the stress of school cutbacks like the OP has stated.

    Pray tell, how are the schools of nursing going to pay faculty members more (as per the Nursing Education act in Congress now) if they can't afford basic supplies such as photocopies?
  7. by   VickyRN
    Quote from Moogie
    I'm glad I quit teaching. The salary was horrible, considering the hours that I worked, and I cannot imagine the stress of school cutbacks like the OP has stated.

    Pray tell, how are the schools of nursing going to pay faculty members more (as per the Nursing Education act in Congress now) if they can't afford basic supplies such as photocopies?
    I actually love my job. I just think it's very sad that our state expects its employees to shoulder the burden for the budget crisis. I cannot describe the emotions felt by being made to "give back" part of one's salary. (BTW, the state judges - who make tons more than the average state employee - somehow "opted out" of this requirement.) It's not just the universities and community colleges. The NC public schools - which already rank in the low 40's among the states - are now laying off teachers and increasing classroom sizes. The public schools are critically short on supplies.

    All of these cutbacks to education (whether in the public schools, community colleges, or universities) compromise our future - our children. Our young people will have less opportunity to acquire marketable job skills and many will end up being unemployed, underemployed, or on public assistance. Thus, in the end, the state will pay out much more $$$$ and collect less money in taxes from productive, working adults by shortchanging education. Penny wise and pound foolish.
    Last edit by VickyRN on Jun 14, '09
  8. by   jpeters84
    I think that it is ridiculous that state employees are made to give back part of their salary. As a nursing student I know how hard nursing professors work, how little appreciation they get for their work, how little they get paid for their work, and how valuable and crucial their work is. State's should be looking at frivolous spending which in the past 5-10 years of excess their has been plenty of in each state and if they have to, they should look at increasing taxes as a whole, not just taking away from state-employed employees. The nursing schools are already overburdened with too little facilities, too little supplies, and too little pay for it's much needed endeavors.

    What also upsets me is the number of well-qualified eager students who would give anything to get into nursing school who aren't able to because there are way too many applicants then there are spots because there isn't the money to hire new faculty, create new classroom space, and find clinical spots. How do the states ever think they are going to take care of the nursing shortage, which after this recession is over and the baby-boomers really start retiring will take place. I know right now there are no jobs but in the future there will be a huge need for more nurses than can be supplied and yet thousands of top students are being turned away.

    I also know that right now putting spending into nursing programs is an inprobability with the financial crisis in every state budget but why can't bureacracies ever have some foresight and make budgets that allow for a safety net in such economies and allow for the necesary programs such as firefighter training, nurse training, teacher training to be able to grow and prosper as needed? I know that money needs to be cut from everywhere right now but I feel like they're taking money away from nursing programs that are never given what they need in the first place and yet everyone expects to walk into an ER and for there to be highly trained nurses at the ready. How do they think those high trained nurses get there, osmosis?
  9. by   VickyRN
    Quote from jpeters84
    I think that it is ridiculous that state employees are made to give back part of their salary. As a nursing student I know how hard nursing professors work, how little appreciation they get for their work, how little they get paid for their work, and how valuable and crucial their work is. State's should be looking at frivolous spending which in the past 5-10 years of excess their has been plenty of in each state and if they have to, they should look at increasing taxes as a whole, not just taking away from state-employed employees. The nursing schools are already overburdened with too little facilities, too little supplies, and too little pay for it's much needed endeavors.

    What also upsets me is the number of well-qualified eager students who would give anything to get into nursing school who aren't able to because there are way too many applicants then there are spots because there isn't the money to hire new faculty, create new classroom space, and find clinical spots. How do the states ever think they are going to take care of the nursing shortage, which after this recession is over and the baby-boomers really start retiring will take place. I know right now there are no jobs but in the future there will be a huge need for more nurses than can be supplied and yet thousands of top students are being turned away.

    I also know that right now putting spending into nursing programs is an inprobability with the financial crisis in every state budget but why can't bureacracies ever have some foresight and make budgets that allow for a safety net in such economies and allow for the necesary programs such as firefighter training, nurse training, teacher training to be able to grow and prosper as needed? I know that money needs to be cut from everywhere right now but I feel like they're taking money away from nursing programs that are never given what they need in the first place and yet everyone expects to walk into an ER and for there to be highly trained nurses at the ready. How do they think those high trained nurses get there, osmosis?
    Thank you for your insightful reply and kind words of support, jpeters84.

    The latest word on our state financial crisis is that the NC General Assembly is considering raising state income taxes for higher income brackets, increasing sales tax on liquor, mandating tuition increases and surcharges, and eliminating certain tuition grants and special scholarships. If enacted, these proposals would lessen the direct funding cuts to state educational institutions, including nursing schools. All state employee salaries, of course, are to remain frozen, with the possibility of further "voluntary furloughs" being enacted down the road.
  10. by   Moogie
    Quote from jpeters84
    What also upsets me is the number of well-qualified eager students who would give anything to get into nursing school who aren't able to because there are way too many applicants then there are spots because there isn't the money to hire new faculty, create new classroom space, and find clinical spots. How do the states ever think they are going to take care of the nursing shortage, which after this recession is over and the baby-boomers really start retiring will take place. I know right now there are no jobs but in the future there will be a huge need for more nurses than can be supplied and yet thousands of top students are being turned away.

    I also know that right now putting spending into nursing programs is an inprobability with the financial crisis in every state budget but why can't bureacracies ever have some foresight and make budgets that allow for a safety net in such economies and allow for the necesary programs such as firefighter training, nurse training, teacher training to be able to grow and prosper as needed? I know that money needs to be cut from everywhere right now but I feel like they're taking money away from nursing programs that are never given what they need in the first place and yet everyone expects to walk into an ER and for there to be highly trained nurses at the ready. How do they think those high trained nurses get there, osmosis?
    Excellent points. As a Baby Boomer, I am nervous about what health care might be like when I'm elderly. I also appreciate VickyRN's description of the state budgets as penny wise and pound foolish.
  11. by   oramar
    Quote from jpeters84
    I think that it is ridiculous that state employees are made to give back part of their salary. As a nursing student I know how hard nursing professors work, how little appreciation they get for their work, how little they get paid for their work, and how valuable and crucial their work is. State's should be looking at frivolous spending which in the past 5-10 years of excess their has been plenty of in each state and if they have to, they should look at increasing taxes as a whole, not just taking away from state-employed employees. The nursing schools are already overburdened with too little facilities, too little supplies, and too little pay for it's much needed endeavors.

    What also upsets me is the number of well-qualified eager students who would give anything to get into nursing school who aren't able to because there are way too many applicants then there are spots because there isn't the money to hire new faculty, create new classroom space, and find clinical spots. How do the states ever think they are going to take care of the nursing shortage, which after this recession is over and the baby-boomers really start retiring will take place. I know right now there are no jobs but in the future there will be a huge need for more nurses than can be supplied and yet thousands of top students are being turned away.

    I also know that right now putting spending into nursing programs is an inprobability with the financial crisis in every state budget but why can't bureacracies ever have some foresight and make budgets that allow for a safety net in such economies and allow for the necesary programs such as firefighter training, nurse training, teacher training to be able to grow and prosper as needed? I know that money needs to be cut from everywhere right now but I feel like they're taking money away from nursing programs that are never given what they need in the first place and yet everyone expects to walk into an ER and for there to be highly trained nurses at the ready. How do they think those high trained nurses get there, osmosis?
    :yeahthat:
  12. by   mommyonamission
    VickyRN, points well taken!
    What I don't understand is how hospitals have numerous nurse openings (at least according to their websites) yet so many nursing grads that you know are unemployed. Of course, this is my observation without breaking down the data in detail but how would you explain this?

    I think there's a misperception by some considering the nursing field as a profession that the job supply is excellent. However, apparently, that does not appear to be the case; especially from some of the geographical differences I've seen folks cite in other forums.
  13. by   medicmama921
    Wow - that's scary! I'm an LPN in GA & was planning to try to go back in the fall to get my RN. Now I'm afraid I may not be able to get in anywhere, nor get the financial aid to help cover the costs! Thanks for keeping us updated...
  14. by   jpeters84
    Mommyonamission-
    There are nursing jobs available but new grads with no jobs because hospitals are unwilling to hire new grads. In other words there are plenty of jobs for nurses out there with at least one year of experience but if you're a new grad you are SOL. According to hospitals "it takes a lot of money to train new grads." I am personally incredibly frustrated by hospitals that will not hire new grads or hospitals that allow their new grad programs to diasappear during economic downturns.

    First off, new grads need good preceptors which are already hired nurses on the floor with a lot of experience and some patience. Why this should cost a hospital so much more money I don't know. Again, how do these hospitals think that the quality nurses that they currently employ ever became quality nurses if someone didn't give them the opportunity and the experience right out of nursing school. How do these hospitals expect these newly graduated students to ever become nurses that they want and will need to hire in the future without being given the chance their first year out?

    Many of these hospitals expect nursing students to fend for themselves and expect other hospitals to shoulder the burden of training new nurses. I am taking a stance and have vowed to never work for a hospital that does not hire new grads. If you're not willing to give me an opportunity to prove myself in the beginning then I don't think you should benefit from my experience later on.

    Wherever I do finally get employed when I graduate I will be forever loyal and grateful and I feel that every hospital should open their doors to both nursing students in allowing for more room for clinical spots and in hiring new grads. This benefits everyone in the long-run. If the hospitals need to put a little more capital in the beginning in order to get better trained new nurses then so be it. If hospitals want to start drawing up contracts with new grads saying that they will train the new grads if they promise to work for the hospital for X amount of years I don't have a problem with that. But the flat-out not hiring of new grads is absolutely unacceptable. The short-sightedness of hospitals in a down-turn mirrors the ridiculous mentality of state bureacracies making poorly thought out budget cuts. I believe both are in the wrong and I am constantly astounded by the lack of fore-thought that goes into the decisions made all in the name of economics.

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