As the largest population in history moves toward retirement and increased medical demands, Tennessee is facing a nursing shortage. Tennessee is projected to need an additional 35,300 registered nurses by the year 2020, without which only 53% of need will be met. Currently, Tennessee’s schools of nursing are operating at capacity. Qualified nursing candidates cannot be admitted, compounding the shortage problem.
“Curing the Crisis in Nursing Education: A Master Plan for Tennessee,” published in 2005 and the subsequent update published in 2008, make the following recommendations:
- Increase the number of nursing graduates with diversity mirroring the population;
- Increase the number of qualified nursing faculty at master and doctoral levels so schools can expand capacity;
- Improve retention in the nursing workforce.
- Tennessee is projected to need an additional 35,300 registered nurses by the year 2020, without which only 53% of need will be met.
- Nursing is ranked as the number one growth occupation through 2012 (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- Enrollment in nursing programs would have to increase at least 41% per year to provide enough new registered nursing to replace those expected to leave the workforce through retirement.
- Health professionals are an economic engine for Tennessee. Filling professional nursing openings will result in an economic benefit for the state.
Susan teaches high school biology and sees some of the brightest science students pass through her classes. When she learned about the nursing crisis, Susan started talking to her students about opportunities in the nursing profession.
Sylvia, a bilingual student, followed her teacher’s guidance. She was admitted to the U.T. School of Nursing and is currently a senior. Sylvia sees many career opportunities at an economic time when many college seniors are worried about finding a job upon graduation.
- Support nursing scholarships enabling more students to attend nursing school.
- Encourage qualified minority students to consider nursing as a career.
- Support private and public schools of nursing as they expand capacity.
- Encourage Tennessee public policy leaders to support nursing education.