These ever-changing needs and growing
populations have brought with them a need for more nursing
professionals, creating what we now know as a national nursing shortage.
“The national nursing shortage can be
attributed to multiple factors,” said Andrea Lindell, MSN, DNSc, dean
of the UC College of Nursing. “Many other professions are offering more
opportunities for women than ever before. The recruitment of women into
once male-dominated professions is becoming more and more common. There
is an increased demand for nurses’ advanced specialized care in the
“With current budgetary climates,
resources to academic units are on the decline. As a result, it has
been the trend to admit fewer and fewer students into professional
programs such as nursing.”
The Cincinnati community is looking at
ways to combat nursing shortages locally. Surveys are being used to
determine why nurses leave their positions. Many changes in health care
are impacting the roles that nurses play, and causing health
organizations to make improvements.
Behind the scenes, nursing professionals
have worked around the clock to “heal” the shortage. Among the most
basic steps taken to add to the supply of nurses nationally is
recruitment into nursing education programs. Nursing schools and
programs nationwide experienced an upward trend in enrollment in 2003.
The UC College of Nursing was no ex-ception. Through innovative
recruitment efforts, the college saw a 12.2 percent increase in total
enrollment. Faculty, staff and students are reaching out to high school
students like never before. Opportunities for scholarships are at an
all-time high with support from the college’s own Board of Advisors and
Hefty incentives from hospitals may have
lured more students to the pursuit of a degree in nursing, but this is
not the only explanation for national upward trends in enrollment.
Colleges are making programs more visible, asking the public to take
another look at nursing as a career. Johnson & Johnson has used the
power of advertising in a national campaign to revisit the value of the
nursing profession. Changes in the national health scene has
re-established nursing as a respected and viable profession.
To celebrate enrollment increases without
looking at retention strategies; however, would be stopping short of a
concerted effort to get more nurses in the work force. UC has addressed
retention rates head on with programs and curriculum designed
specifically for ensuring that students succeed. The college developed
a student resource position to assist students with study skills, exam
skills, and other needs they may have. The college also offers a
freshman success course for pre-nursing students taught by faculty from
the College of Nursing.
“This course is an excellent opportunity
to introduce students to nursing as a career, allowing students to
begin the identification process with their chosen major very early
on,” said Anita Finkelman, MSN, RN, director of undergraduate
curriculum and associate professor/clinical nursing in the UC College
Due to curriculum changes and the need to
engage students earlier than their junior year, the college admitted
students in the Winter quarter of their sophomore year. This provides
time for additional clinical courses that will assist in the
development of critical clinical competencies that are required in
today’s health care environment. This strategy should also affect
retention rates, as students will become involved in their major much
“The college’s curriculum revision
includes increased clinical hours, greater development of leadership
competencies, emphasis on the continuum of care, and additional
experience in ambulatory care settings,” said Finkelman.
Along with the curriculum changes, the
college is developing collaborative partnerships with health care
delivery organizations that will benefit students’ learning and allow
the college to work more closely with the practice arena.