CNN – At a time when registered nurses are going on strike to protest staffing shortages, thousands of applicants who want to enter or advance in the profession are being turned away from nursing schools.
Nearly 78,200 qualified applications were not offered spots at nursing schools last year, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, which represents schools with baccalaureate and advanced degree programs.
This includes nearly 66,300 applications for entry-level bachelor’s degree programs.
The number of applications turned away from baccalaureate programs has been higher in recent years than it was prior to 2019. (One person may submit applications to multiple schools.)
Staffing shortages are the main reason why nursing schools are not able to accept more students who want to become registered nurses.
The programs are contending with a lack of faculty, clinical placements for students and preceptors who supervise the students during their rotations at health care providers.
Preceptors also have strict limits on how many students they can oversee, with the ratios often set by state nursing boards.
“You can’t just throw in a lot of people to expand nursing pools,” said Judith Jarosinski, professor emerita at Salisbury University’s School of Nursing in Maryland.
Community colleges, where students can become registered nurses after earning associate degrees, are also turning away applicants for the same reasons, said Rick Garcia, CEO of the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing, which does not track the number of applications not offered spots.
The bottleneck comes at a time when registered nurses are in high demand, especially at hospitals.
While the profession has recovered from a Covid-19 pandemic-induced dip, employment has shifted away from hospitals and to outpatient clinics, doctors’ offices, schools and elsewhere, said David Auerbach, visiting scholar at Brandeis University …