The American Association of Colleges of Nursing released preliminary survey data showing that enrollment in entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs increased by 2.6% from 2012 to 2013, which marks the lowest enrollment increase in professional RN programs over the past five years.
Findings are based on data reported from 720 of the 858 schools of nursing in the U.S. with baccalaureate or graduate programs. Although RN enrollment increased for the 13th consecutive year, nursing schools have identified a shortage of faculty and clinical education sites as potential barriers to realizing future growth and meeting the nation’s need for healthcare providers.
“Given the calls for a more highly educated nursing workforce from the Institute of Medicine, the Tri-Council for Nursing, nurse employers and other stakeholders, we are pleased to see at least modest growth in the pipeline of new baccalaureate-prepared nurses,” AACN President Jane Kirschling, RN, PhD, FAAN, said in a news release.
Preliminary AACN data also show a strong enrollment surge in baccalaureate nursing programs designed for practicing nurses looking to expand their education in response to employer demands and patient expectations.
The number of students enrolled in baccalaureate degree completion programs, also known as RN-to-BSN programs, increased by 12.4% last year (among 512 schools reporting). This year marks the 11th year of enrollment increases in these programs and offers further validation of the desire among nurses to advance their education to remain competitive in today’s workforce, according to the AACN.
Looking ahead, AACN plans to work collaboratively with stakeholders to ensure that enrollment in both baccalaureate and master’s level degree completion programs for RNs expands even further to meet the recommendations outlined in the 2010 “Future of Nursing” report prepared by the Institute of Medicine, including a goal of 80% of nurses having BSNs by 2020.
Enrollment changes since 1994: www.aacn.nche.edu/Media-Relations/EnrollChanges.pdf
Fact sheet: www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/nursing-workforce