U.S. and local nursing schools face shortage of instructors - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

U.S. and local nursing schools face shortage of instructors

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

There's a critical shortage of nurses in the United States, including here in Rockford. 

But now, nursing schools say there's also a lack of nursing instructors. 

"There's always nerves about getting in," nursing student Darin Hagemeyer said. 

Hagemeyer is  a senior at OSF Saint Anthony College of Nursing. 

For him, it only took one application, but that's not always the case.

"It is competition still, most of the programs are smaller and you need decent grades to get in," Hagemeyer said. 

Even with decent grades, it's getting harder and harder to get accepted into a nursing program. 

"There were approximately 64,000 qualified nursing students who could not be admitted to programs because of a faculty shortage," OSF Saint Anthony College of Nursing President Sandie Soldwisch said.

A trend we're also seeing here in Rockford. Last year, OSF Saint Anthony says it turned away at least 14 qualified applicants because it didn't have enough teachers. That's a big problem, when hospitals are desperate to hire more nurses to provide necessary care for patients. 

"We are at the highest level of nursing shortage since 1960," Soldwisch said.

And college administrators say the problem could get worse as more faculty and nurses near retirement age. 

"They're anticipating one-third of the faculty retirements in the next 10 years, which means there will be that many more students who can't get into a program," Soldwisch said.

However, lawmakers are looking at possible solutions, including a bill that allows community colleges to offer four-year nursing programs. The goal is to create more opportunities for students to graduate and fill open nursing positions. However, schools say it's still missing the mark. 

"While the idea is lofty, the actuality that the programs will still require additional faculty and there is a faculty shortage," Soldwisch said. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a shortage of nearly one million nurses by the year 2022.

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