Michigan’s 16 nursing schools are not filling to capacity and are only graduating about half of their possible enrollments, according to a survey released by the Southeast Michigan Health and Hospital Council.
University of Michigan Nursing Dean Ada Hinshaw said the University is no exception to this trend. “The School of Nursing’s enrollment has been below capacity the past four years. Our enrollment dropped over this time but less than the national average, which was 21.1 percent.”
Hinshaw said the drop in enrollment has not affected standards for admission, although there have been fewer applications and fewer admitted. She also noted the University has “initiated several major marketing and recruitment strategies and the freshman classes have been steadily increasing over the past three years.”
Lindsey Balzhiser, a nursing sophomore, thinks nursing schools are not enrolling at capacity because they are looking for more qualified applicants.
“Admissions officers may be skeptical about allowing certain students into their programs because many people use the nursing school as a back-door into the University, and have no intentions of actually completing the BSN program,” Balzhiser said.
Dwindling nursing school enrollments are of special concern because of the growing nationwide shortage of nurses, which has resulted in increased labor costs for hospitals and a decrease in the overall quality of health care. In order to address this problem, Senator John Schwarz, (R-Battle Creek), has sponsored a bill to create a Michigan Nurse Scholarship. The proposed program would award more than 1,000 nursing students in the state with about $3,000 a year to cover tuition costs.
“This scholarship program will be very helpful to individuals, men and women, considering a nursing degree,” said Hinshaw, who has been collaborating with Schwarz on the proposed scholarship legislation for several months. “It should help to bring additional students into our exciting nursing programs since it provides a financial incentive.”
Nursing senior Suzanne Begeny said she thinks that while the scholarship would be worthwhile, additional measures need to be taken in order to boost enrollment, such as increased funding for the Nursing school.
Begeny said an education in nursing is more costly because of medical and laboratory equipment. Usually a nursing student’s tuition does not cover all of the costs involved. “Nursing is a rewarding profession that offers great opportunities, but something must change. Otherwise the enrollment will continue to be on the decline and there will be no way to attract new students.”