Nursing programs expanding to meet demand

As we've reported for years, a lack of training slots for nurses has long been one of the biggest obstacles to addressing the nationwide nursing shortage. While plenty of students want to enter nursing programs, they may face wait lists in the thousands to get into existing programs. At long last, however, it seems that state officials are beginning to take the problem seriously.

For example, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has just approved $5 million in spending to set up a regional nursing education center at the University of Texas at Arlington. The new center will be a resource for the area's 14 nursing schools, which are staggering under the weight of demand. The center will hopefully improve things over last year, when the state as a whole had to turn away around 8,000 qualified applicants from nursing programs.

With help from state governments, schools are expanding strategies to channel medical professionals such as paramedics and licensed vocational nurses into fast-track RN programs. Some colleges, such as Baylor University, are helping college graduates change careers by offering intensive 12-month RN training.

With 4.5 percent of college freshmen planning to major in nursing last year, however, it's likely the states will have to work even harder. This should be an interesting year or two for the nursing profession; let's see if colleges and state officials are really serious about expanding access to nursing programs as demand mounts even further.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this Dallas Morning News piece

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