Nursing School Enrollment On The Rise

The pandemic seems to be driving a new surge in nursing school enrollment, which is a good sign that people are dedicated to helping provide medical services during these difficult times.

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 1, 2021 – According to new data released today by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), student enrollment in baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs increased in 2020 despite concerns that the pandemic might diminish interest in nursing careers. In programs designed to prepare new registered nurses (RNs) at the baccalaureate level, enrollment increased by 5.6% with 251,145 students now studying in these programs nationwide. AACN’s annual survey findings are based on data reported from 956 of the 1,035 nursing schools in the U.S. (92.4% response rate) with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs.

“AACN is pleased to see across-the-board increases in nursing school enrollments given our commitment to encouraging all nurses to advance their education as a catalyst for improving patient care and keeping communities safe,” said Dr. Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Chair of the AACN Board of Directors. “With the pandemic ushering in a period of unprecedented change and innovation in higher education, schools of nursing moved decisively to adapt their programs to ensure a steady supply of nurses needed to join the fight against COVID-19.”

Based on findings from AACN’s latest annual survey conducted in Fall 2020, significant increases in enrollment were found in entry-level baccalaureate (5.6%), master’s (4.1%), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (8.9%) programs. In fact, nursing programs offered at each of these degree levels have seen more than 15 years of continuous enrollment growth.

Though interest in baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs is strong, thousands of qualified applicants are being turned away from four-year colleges and universities. In 2020, 80,521 qualified applications were not accepted at schools of nursing due primarily to a shortage of clinical sites, faculty, and resource constraints. Within this total, applications turned away included 66,274 from entry-level baccalaureate, 1,376 from RN-to-baccalaureate, 8,987 from master’s, and 3,884 from doctoral programs. Given the persistent shortage of nurse faculty, AACN remains concerned that 12,871 applications were turned away from graduate programs, which limits the pool of potential nurse faculty.  Read the full article here.