Nursing enrollment up, number of instructors still lacking

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Although enrollment in bachelor's degree nursing programs rose 13% this year, schools were still forced to turn away more than 32,000 qualified applicants, largely because of a shortage of instructors, according to new research. More than 400 nursing schools contributed enrollment data for 2004 and 2005 to assist researchers.

"Despite the successful efforts of schools nationwide to expand student capacity, our nation's nursing schools are falling far short of meeting the current and projected demand for RNs," said Jean Bartels, president of he American Association of Colleges of Nursing, which released preliminary data this week.

According to the AACN, graduations from 393 entry-level baccalaureate programs rose 19% overall over the previous year – marking a fourth straight year of growth.

But nursing advocates say it is still not going to be enough: Federal health officials forecast a shortage of more than 800,000 nurses within 15 years.

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