UW schools hope programs avert nursing shortage
- Associated Press
- January 20, 2014 - 10:45 AM
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — Four schools in the University of Wisconsin System are hoping a new grant program can avert a nursing shortage expected in coming decades.
A report from the Wisconsin Center for Nursing says the state could face a shortfall of 20,000 registered nurses by 2035 — a consequence of expected retirements and an aging U.S. population. The schools hope to prevent a shortage by training more nurses to teach in nursing schools, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reported (http://bit.ly/1ak3Yfs ).
The UW campuses in Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee and Oshkosh are offering fellowships and loan-forgiveness programs designed to encourage nurses to enroll in graduate programs. The incentives are being funded through a $3.2 million UW System economic-development incentive grant.
The looming nursing shortage isn't a result of people not wanting to enter the field. Already the four UW schools denied admission to from 50 percent to 80 percent of qualified undergraduate applicants because there weren't enough qualified nursing faculty to teach them, said Linda Young, the dean of UW-Eau Claire's College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
And the need for new nurses is only going to rise, according to a report from the Wisconsin Center for Nursing. Wisconsin currently produces about 3,100 nurses annually, but the state will need as many as 7,500 new nursing graduates per year by 2020.
So the schools, through the UW System's Nursing for Wisconsin initiative, are hoping to add qualified nurses to their teaching staffs. They're offering fellowships worth up to $60,000 a year, and they'll also repay up to $50,000 of a new hire's student loans in exchange for a three-year teaching commitment.
"The goal is to increase the number of nursing faculty and, ultimately, to increase the number of nurses in Wisconsin," Young said.
The average age of nursing faculty in the state is 58, and surveys show a third of them plan to retire in the next four years, the Wisconsin Center for Nursing report said.
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