Expanding Acceptance of Nursing Students
Hollis Forester, RNC-NP
Everyone knows the difficulty in getting into nursing educational programs. The problems with overcrowding in nursing programs have given rise to the use of lotteries and waiting lists. What prospective student has not experienced the problems inherent in waiting and waiting to enter an institution? And we all know the reason. The lack of nursing faculty has diminished the numbers of nursing students that can enter a school at one time.
However there are a couple of solutions that nursing schools have started to adopt. One of these is accepting new students for the fall and the spring term. This may not sound new to some, but in my immediate area, three different nursing schools have just begun this method of accepting new students. In one institution, where they were able to accept 50 students a year, they have begun starting a new class of nursing students in the spring, and can now have 100 students at a time working through their program. Of course, imagine the surprise of the student, who thought she was on a waiting list, then gets the call…”you can start the program in two weeks!” This is great, but always wrecks havoc with jobs, children’s routines and partner’s expectations.
Another method that will catch on soon is the use of technology to teach from a distance. Of course, online classes are common at this point, and this will not help with clinical rotations, but it will help with the didactic courses that give the background for those hands-on hospital or clinical experiences. And, actually, there are simulations and games available with learning programs now that can, in some ways, help you through the actual day at the hospital. Learning electronic health records with a simulated record, or viewing an expert instructor on a webinar (or in a 3-D holographic image) could increase the numbers of learners from the size of a classroom to the size of a town.
The stimulus package from the US government has given money to help with nursing education. They are helping with loans to nursing students who promise to teach after they finish their nursing school education, giving back to those coming after them. Let us hope that this stimulus aid will take advantage of other methods of expanding the classrooms so that the possible students will be able to achieve their dream of becoming a health care professional and not be put on hold for years at a time because of lottery systems and waiting lists.