Several University of Wisconsin System schools, including UW-Madison, have been forced to limit the number of students admitted into nursing programs because of a shortage in staff.
Fifty to 80 percent of qualified students who apply to nursing schools at four UW System schools are denied admission because of insufficient qualified nursing faculty to teach them, according to a UW School of Nursing statement.
The retirement of some professors has caused concern regarding the faculty positions within the school, Linda Young, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at UW-Eau Claire, said. This is an issue because it is already difficult enough for students to gain admission to the school because of the staff scarcity, she said.
Daniel Kleytman, a UW freshman applying to the nursing school, said the shortage had not changed his outlook on his career path.
“I think that this shortage poses a slight problem for Madison because in the past we were known for our excellent programs in the pre-health field,” Kleytman said. “I still believe it is a very good field to go into, and I feel that I will benefit greatly from it regardless of the shortage.”
According to the statement, the UW School of Nursing is offering new fellowship and loan forgiveness programs to encourage nurses to pursue doctoral degrees or training and assume nurse educator positions in Wisconsin.
Postdoctoral fellowships will also be supported with the benefits of beginning a three-year teaching commitment at a UW System nursing program, Young said.
Additionally the statement said the Nurses for Wisconsin Initiative, a $3.2 million grant, funded through a UW System incentive grant program, seeks to rapidly develop more nursing educators at UW-Milwaukee, UW-Madison, UW-Eau Claire and UW-Oshkosh.
“This collaborative initiative to invest in nurse educators is an important first step in meeting the need to enroll more nursing students for Wisconsin,” Young said.
According to the Wisconsin Center for Nursing, the current average age of Wisconsin nursing faculty members is 58, and almost six out of 10 faculty plan to leave the workforce within 10 years.
This makes the initiative essential to enhance the staff members in the nursing department, Young said.
Within this fund all predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships will provide opportunities for mentorship in the nurse educator role, Young said. The predoctoral fellowships will support students pursuing either Ph.D. or doctor of nursing practice degrees, she added.
Young said UW System schools provide some of the best opportunities for students who want to go into nursing throughout the world.
“UW System nursing programs have the leadership, academic programs and curriculum necessary to increase the number of graduates from the baccalaureate programs,” Young said.
UW-Madison has consistently been ranked by U.S. News as one of the top 20 nursing schools in the country.
“Even with the shortage of staff, going into the nursing school at UW-Madison opens up many doors and opportunities for me in my future,” Kleytman said.