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Enrollment Growth in U.S. Nursing Colleges and Universities Hits an 8-Year Low According to New Data Released by AACN
Date:12/3/2008

A Minimal 2% Growth in the Baccalaureate Student Population May Signal that Schools Have Reached Enrollment Capacity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) today released preliminary survey data showing that enrollment in entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs increased by only 2.0 percent from 2007 to 2008. Though this marks the eighth consecutive year of enrollment growth, the annual increase in student capacity in four-year nursing programs has declined sharply since 2003 when enrollment was up by 16.6 percent. Adding to this sobering news is the fact that enrollment growth in master's nursing programs has also decreased, and the number of students entering research-focused doctorates appears to be flat based on early reporting.

"The nation's nursing schools are facing considerable barriers to expanding student capacity despite the calls for more nurses to replace the large segment of the workforce expected to retire within the next 10 years," said AACN President Fay Raines. "This year's enrollment increases are welcome, but largely insufficient to meet the projected demand for nursing clinicians, educators, and researchers into the foreseeable future."

AACN's latest data confirm that interest in nursing careers remains high with schools of nursing receiving many more qualified applications than can be accommodated. Preliminary data for 2008 show that 27,771 qualified applicants were turned away from entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs based on responses from 406 institutions. Most schools point to a shortage of faculty as the primary reason for turning away students. AACN expects this number to increase when final data are available in March 2009.

"The significant drop in the number of students turned away may indicate that students, frustrated in their attempts to enroll in
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SOURCE American Association of Colleges of Nursing
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