The shortage of nurse educators could affect the care of millions of patients, according to estimates by the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence.
Each nurse educator position left unfilled could impact healthcare for 3.6 million patients, according to the report. Schools with baccalaureate nursing programs have about 900 faculty vacancies, with thousands more likely to arise in the next 15 years.
Darlene Curley, RN, MS, executive director of the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence, and Christine Kovner, RN, PhD, FAAN, professor at New York University College of Nursing, developed a formula to measure the impact of nursing faculty vacancies on patients. They considered the average number of students taught by one faculty member and the number of patients cared for by a typical RN. They note that their estimates are conservative.
The precise scope of the nursing faculty shortage is not calculable, but this cautious estimate demonstrates the real-world impact of this deficit and why it must be addressed decisively and swiftly, Curley said in a news release.
The shortage of nurse educators forced the denial of approximately 55,000 qualified student applicants to nursing programs in 2009, according to the review. In limiting the education of future generations of nurses, the shortage adversely affects the quality and cost of patient care. The report says the situation will intensify because of the effects of healthcare reform and an aging population.
The wide range of nursing practice areas and varying state workforce regulations make this kind of assessment difficult, which is one reason no one had yet taken on the task, Curley said. But we must have a clear sense of the situation if we as a nation are to effectively resolve our nursing workforce issues.
The Jonas Center developed a Nurse Leaders Scholar Program to support the educational development of new nursing faculty. For information, visit http://www.jonascenter.org/program-areas/scholars.