To Combat Nursing Shortage, Universities Create Accelerated 12-Month Training Programs: 'A Win-Win'


                                                              By Kailey Schuyler 

America needs nurses — and some schools are implementing accelerated programs to train them.

To shorten the process, these programs cut training time from up to four years down to one.

"I really do think this is a win-win for students and local hospitals and facilities," said Elizabeth Mann, assistant clinical professor at the University of New England, in an interview. She's based in Maine.

Prospective students must have a previous bachelor's degree and need to complete eight prerequisite courses.

This is dramatically shorter than the typical two- to four-year nursing program.

"I think the ability to get a second degree in something like a bachelor's in nursing is very appealing to many people," said UNE Nursing School's interim director Donna Hyde.

"They don't have to have a health care background. We will get them there."

"There's nothing cut back. They do the same amount of clinical hours, so we allow time for that," said Hyde.

"Their schedule may have to be a little more flexible to include consideration of weekends."

There's a projected shortage of over 78,000 registered nurses next year, according to the National Center of Health Workforce Analysis.

The states most in need of nurses are Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan and Georgia.

"As different states are looking at their own options to increase their nursing workforce, this is one of those options," said Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, the Oregon-based president of a nursing association.

The shortened 12-month program not only appeals to students, but will also benefit local health care facilities, Mann said.

Hyde noted that she speaks to many of the nurse administrators at local health care partners, and "they obviously see the need for more nurses sooner rather than later."

Some have expressed doubt that students can be ready in just a year, Mann pointed out.

"They may interpret it as [offering] a lesser quality [of training] or that we are pushing students through, and I do want to emphasize that is truly not the case," she said.

Up to 40 students are expected to start the program in May at the University of New England.

Once students complete the program, they will have to pass a national exam — just like a traditional four-year student — to officially become a nurse.


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