Virginia Prognosis: 20,000 Nurses Short by 2015


RICHMOND - The anticipated shortage of nurses in Virginia - a deficit of up to 20,000 in the next eight years - is not, contrary to what one may think, due to a lack of people wanting to enter the profession. At Thomas Nelson Community College, two to three students apply for every open slot in its Nursing Department.

"We are having to turn students away," said Dr. Richard Fleming, vice president of academic affairs at Thomas Nelson. He says that his institution isn't unique; schools across the country are doing the same. "A lot of people want to be nurses."

Fleming and others, including Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, say that the pending nursing shortage is a result of a nursing faculty shortage. There are few, if any, incentives for a practicing nurse to pursue a master's degree, which is required to teach at a nursing school, those in the profession say. For many nursing school faculty members, it is often more lucrative to work rather than teach.

Last week, Kaine spoke at the University of Virginia about measures included in the state budget to address the issue.

"What we've done in the budget this year is designed to increase nursing education," Kaine said in an interview. He said nursing faculty at colleges and community colleges would receive a 10 percent raise on top of any normal or scheduled raises they would have received. "Some nursing instructors make less than their students," Kaine said.

In addition, a $200,000 scholarship would be established "to encourage more nurses to go into masters programs and get a degree and become nursing faculty," Kaine said.

Kaine announced Feb. 28 that Northern Virginia Community College would receive a grant to train more nurses and other health professionals in short supply. The University of Virginia would also receive a grant to fund a loan forgiveness program for people who go into nursing doctorate programs with a focus on becoming instructors. Each grant is for $750,000.

"We are very supportive of the governor's budget to establish a scholarship and to increase funding to loan repayment programs," said Donna McCarthy, interim executive director of the Richmond-based Virginia Nurses Association, a professional group.

McCarthy added: "This is a pipeline issue. We do not have enough nursing education capacity at this point to produce the new nursing graduates both to replace those who will be retiring and to meet the current shortage. It will be more acute by 2020."

Even at institutions that currently do not have any faculty vacancies, administrators are aware of the big picture.

"We're well-staffed - which is lucky," said Tracee Carmean, vice president of education at Riverside School of Health Careers, where there are 18 full-time faculty, along with a handful of part-time and adjunct faculty.


Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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