MSN Programs: Key to Solving the Nursing Shortage
Thanks to an aging U.S. population, U.S. hospitals and health care providers do not have enough nurses to meet demand. Another factor in the nursing shortage is a lack of trained nurses, due largely to a shortage of qualified nurse educators. Information about online MSN programs points to the accessibility of MSN degree programs as a potential solution to solving the nursing shortage.
Why the Shortage of Nurses?
John Hopkins Nursing reports the Future of the Nursing Workforce in the United States determined the U.S. could be short 500,000 nurses by 2025. In other words, there will be a need for 500,000 more nurses than there are available hires in the field. The gap between the number of needed nurses and the number of available nurses is caused primarily by the aging baby-boomer population as well as by older patients living longer thanks to advances in medical care. Also, some people who might otherwise go into nursing may be wary of entering the field because of the yet-unclear effects of new health care laws.
Why the Shortage of Educators?
The American Association of Colleges and Nursing reported in 2011 nursing schools in the U.S. turned down 75,587 qualified applicants from entering undergraduate and graduate programs. There were several reasons for colleges turning down applicants, including classroom space and budgetary concerns. Two-thirds of colleges participating in the study, though, pointed to a lack of available educators. If they had more, they may have been able to support more students.
Just as there are fewer nurses available to fill the necessary positions at hospitals, clinics and retirement homes, there are fewer qualified nursing educators to fill the positions in the field of education. Nursing educators must have graduate degrees and many are expected to have had some years of experience before they can apply for a teaching position. Lower wages in education versus the medical field itself may also keep some nurses from this career.
Earn an MSN Degree
In a troubled economy, almost every available position has dozens or even hundreds of applicants. However, when an entire career field is faced with such a shortage, nearly every qualified applicant is going to be guaranteed a job. That’s a great relief for people looking for job security. Become a trained nurse and go on to earn your advanced degree.
If you need to continue to work another job while you study or you can’t find room in a program at a local campus due to the educator shortage, receive your degree online. Take advantage of the shortage of nurses, and do whatever you can to overcome the shortage so you can reap the benefits of a stable, challenging and well-paying job.
Become an Educator
If you already have an advanced nursing degree, you can make a difference when it comes to the nursing shortage. Schools need nursing educators. Even if you continue to work in the medical field and can only become an educator part-time, you can fill the gap between demand and availability.
If you can’t find a campus near where you live or your work schedule is hectic, you may be interested in working as an online educator. You can put together a flexible work schedule and you can work from home or wherever’s most convenient. The extra income could go a long way; you may be able to reduce your hours at the hospital or clinic.
Earning an MSN degree and becoming a nurse educator, even part-time, can ease the nursing shortage as demonstrated by some of the statistics. If you’re considering becoming a nurse or are already a nurse, there are many reasons to pursue a master’s in the field, not the least of which is the possibility of giving back and becoming an educator. You’ll enjoy greater opportunities, better chances for advancement and the potential for a higher salary.
About the Author: Cora Sizemore is a contributing writer and nurse practitioner. She recently accepted a position with an online college as a nurse educator.