Hospitals nationwide have had trouble finding qualified nurses
for years, but now the shortage is seeping into the academic world
— decreasing the number of faculty available to teach and
therefore the number of students who can attend nursing
At the University’s School of Nursing, 40 percent of
tenure-track faculty is older than 60, Associate Dean Joanne Pohl
said. “In five years many of them could be retired,”
Part of the problem is that becoming a nursing professor
requires years of study. At the University, 90 percent of
tenure-track nursing faculty hold a doctoral degree.
“It is more of an investment to become an educator,”
said School of Nursing Dean Ada Sue Hinshaw, who herself plans to
retire in two years.
Hinshaw and Pohl also pinned the problem on the relatively low
salaries nursing faculty receive compared to nurses working in the
“After a student graduates, the clinical arena can offer a
job starting at $55,000 to $70,000 a year. Nursing faculty would
start at around $60,000 a year, and that is after four years in a
doctoral program,” Hinshaw said.
Pohl added that numerous cuts to the University’s budget
by the state government have prevented the School of Nursing from
being able to pay faculty what other jobs could offer.
The shortage of nurses means that the University will not be
able to carry out all of its programs, Pohl said. The shortage of
nurses means that fewer enroll in graduate schools, and even fewer
in the doctoral program, according to Hinshaw.
“People should know that this nursing shortage is a
serious issue,” Pohl said. “Nationally, 16,000
qualified applicants have been turned away due to insufficient
numbers of faculty.”
Additionally, the University is beginning the search for a new
Nursing dean this winter in response to the shortage, to provide a
longer period of time to search for Hinshaw’s
Nursing senior Lindsay Simon said her professors have responded
to this shortage by pressuring her and other students to go into
“Our professors have been telling us that there is going
to be a shortage soon in nursing educators. They’ve been
trying to put in our minds that teaching is an option and
it’s important to take it seriously because there is going to
be a huge shortage,” Simon said.
She added that educators’ low salaries keep nursing
students from pursuing careers in teaching.
“Most people want to do something else because there
isn’t much money in teaching,” she said.
But the shortage also creates opportunities.
“It’s comforting. I know I’ll have a job when
I graduate,” Nursing junior Megan Finn said.
She added that the shortage has motivated her to work harder in
school and recruit other students to enroll in the School of
The University is planning ahead of time in preparation of the
faculty shortage. Hinshaw explained that through the Provost Loan
Program, the University hopes to equip young nurses for future
teaching positions. In the program, younger faculty are brought in
before a job opening is available and are mentored by more
experienced faculty. When the openings show up, an experienced and
young nurse is ready to fill the position.
Hinshaw also said the University has less of a problem
recruiting nursing faculty than other universities.
“The University is fortunate. It is higher ranked, and its
reputation and research-intensive environment attract new
faculty,” Hinshaw said.
The U.S. News & World Report ranked Michigan third among
nursing graduate schools in 2003.