Nursing schools in South Carolina are rising to the challenge and admitting more students, often over capacity to meet ongoing shortage of nurses in hospitals within the state, with approximately 8500 students admitted in a nursing program in the past year. Over 3300 of these students were admitted into an entry level, or pre-licensure registered nursing education program.
Findings from a recent survey of colleges and schools of nursing for the 2016-2017 academic year indicate that for the first time in the state’s history, there are more baccalaureate (BSN) graduates than associate’s (AD) graduates. For the past three years, the South Carolina Center for Nursing Leadership, has surveyed Deans and Directors of each college and school of nursing throughout the state.
In 2010, The Institute of Medicine (now known at the National Academies), issued national recommendations that by the year 2020, 80% of nurses should have a baccalaureate degree. At the end of the 2017 academic year, 50% of nurses in South Carolina had a baccalaureate or higher degree in nursing, compared to the national average of 54%.
“While we have made tremendous progress, more baccalaureate prepared nurses are needed to help meet the increasingly complex and changing demands of health care.”
- Susan Outen, Director of the Center for Nursing Workforce Research at the Center for Nursing Leadership
Many of the associate degree nursing programs have partnered with baccalaureate programs to improve the transition towards academic advancement with a baccalaureate degree. Nurses practice in many settings, including hospitals, schools, homes, retail health clinics, long-term care facilities, battlefields, and community and public health centers. They have varying levels of education - from licensed practical nurses, who greatly contribute to direct patient care in nursing homes, to nurse scientists, who research and evaluate more effective ways of caring for patients and promoting health.
Nursing schools need to continue to expand enrollment to fully meet the growing demand of registered nurses in South Carolina. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, South Carolina ranks 4th among states by 2030 with a nursing shortage.
“We could accept more students into the existing nursing programs in our state if there were additional faculty and hands-on clinical training openings in hospitals to educate our students.”
-Jeannette Andrews, Dean of the College of Nursing at the University of South Carolina, in Columbia
One of the other concerning trends that we have found is that fewer nurses are enrolling in doctoral programs to become the future faculty our state needs. The number of nurses seeking graduate education has trended downward for the past 3 years. This is especially problematic because 54% of nursing faculty in South Carolina are 51 years of age or older. With “an average of loss of 60 nursing faculty each year from either retirement or seeking jobs elsewhere, we will not have enough faculty to train the number of nurses needed to meet the nursing workforce needs in the years to come,” said Ronda Hughes, Director of the Center for Nursing Leadership. “While over 50% of the BSN programs plan to expand enrollment in the next one to two years, addressing the faculty shortage will be a critical issue for South Carolina for us to adequately supply the demand for our nursing workforce,” said Jeannette Andrews.