How Online Schools Will Help Solve Faculty Shortage in NursingAre you one of those roughly 70,000 nursing applicants who was turned away for admission because of shortage in faculty? It’s alarming, to say the least. The demand for qualified nurses continues to grow. Older nurses are retiring. The patient population continues to age, creating more demand on an already burdened healthcare system. There are not enough nursing instructors to teach prospective students.

What are we Going to Do?

Clearly, this is a complicated situation with many variables, but it’s imperative that solutions be created - and soon!

Many schools have gone online to find a solution. Because education for nurses is delivered via distance learning, it’s not limited by location. This means nurses everywhere, regardless of specific areas in which they live, can attend. This flexibility and convenience extends to other fields of study, not just nursing.

Taking advantage of the e-learning trend means a student can start his/her program at virtually any time, eliminating rigid start dates and deadlines of traditional semester options. In many cases, the tuition is comparable to attending a traditional program on campus. Online education is both affordable and easily accessible with the internet.

Because higher education is delivered online, universities are capable of enrolling more students. Simply put, online education conquers barriers such as insufficient classroom space and lack of clinical sites, both cited as reasons for turning away thousands of nursing candidates each year.  

Utilizing online education to graduate qualified nurses will help to alleviate the faculty shortage, especially as others actively work to create solutions to make academia more attractive to new graduates, possibly with tuition reimbursement and better pay.

Retiring nurses can extend their professional careers by making a move to educating from home via web-based courses, reaching a much wider pool of students, perhaps via (MOOC) Massive Open Online Courses. A traditional class of fifty students has the potential to reach fifty thousand students with MOOC. Certain schools have received grants to fund projects to teach nurses willing to enter academia how to be online educators. Some schools are willing to share their instructors, allowing them to moonlight doing some clinical hours for higher pay to help retain them. Some institutions are sharing their educators to other online programs to help reach more students.

The Next Generation

All of this sounds so high tech, doesn’t it? After all, some of you are still working on converting your facilities from paper charting to the electronic medical record. For many of you, this sounds a bit like Star Trek: The Next Generation. Well, let me break it to you. This IS the next generation and both delivering and achieving higher education via a virtual classroom is 21st century learning.

It is time we all embrace this opportunity and look to distance learning as a way to solve shortages in the nursing profession, both with faculty and staff. A class is no longer contained within four walls. Knowledge is no longer enclosed and bound by a textbook. Libraries now float in cyberspace with no operational hours to follow.

Online education has become a moving, changing, virtual, dynamic landscape which is capable of helping to alleviate the faculty shortage. Is it the only solution necessary? No. But I applaud colleges that redesign their options to find solutions for this crisis. There is hope for bridging this gap. It’s called e-learning.

This topic is sponsored by:

The School of Nursing at the University of Phoenix College of Health Professions offers graduate, undergraduate and certificate programs that prepare nurses for the new challenges and ever-expanding roles they play in today’s health care field. In an era of unprecedented change – from shifting patient demographics, to the emergence of new models like telemedicine and retail medicine, to an increasingly complex licensing and credentialing environment – the School of Nursing is committed to helping students navigate the changes and remain on the leading edge of their professions.