Nursing shortage being hampered further by shortage of instructors

The nursing shortage across the country is being hampered further by a shortage of nursing instructors.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported more than 80,000 qualified applicants were turned away from undergraduate and graduate programs in 2019. One of the main reasons was that there were not enough qualified faculty to teach.

“We’re really recognizing this is a concern. This is a national crisis,” said Dr. Kristy Chunta.

Chunta has been a nurse for 25 years. For the last 18 of those, she’s taught at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, training the next generation of nurses to care for people in our communities.

Between the COVID-19 pandemic and burnout, early retirement among nurses, combined with an aging population of nurses, the shortage is only expected to get worse. The average age of a nurse in the U.S. is 52-years-old.

“We’ve had nurses who have already left the profession,” Chunta said. “It’s predicted another million nurses will leave by 2030.”

“We all hear there aren’t enough nurses, but the supply, the pipeline, to get nurses out there — there’s also a shortage of those teach nurses,” said IUP President Dr. Michael Driscoll.

Driscoll told WPXI the university he leads is committed to helping solve the problem with multiple graduate programs for nursing educators, including flexible online options.

“Anywhere you go in the country that has a nursing program, they’ll tell you they have a problem finding enough qualified faculty to teach nurses. We’re working hard to fix that gap,” Driscoll said.

Chunta leads IUP’s masters in nursing program. It has a nurse education track to prepare future nurse educators. IUP also has a rare Doctors in Nursing Practice to Ph.D. program, as well as a traditional Ph.D. program.

“Teaching is a wonderful career. It provides a mixture of — you can still be a nurse and care for patients and also help students to grow and learn,” Chunta said. “You’re watching students grow, and you know they’re soon going to be ready to graduate and care for patients. To be a part of that is rewarding in so many ways.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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