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Nursing degree programs turned away more than 50,000 qualified applicants in 2013, survey finds

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The nation's nursing degree programs are struggling to educate the future workforce even as demand for nurses is set to surge, according to the latest annual survey data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

For its 33rd annual survey, AACN received responses from 84% of U.S. nursing schools with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs, the association announced recently.

From 2012 to 2013, enrollment in entry-level baccalaureate registered nurse programs increased 2.6%, marking the lowest numbers in five years.

However, there is strong demand for continuing education among currently practicing nurses, the AACN's preliminary results show. The number of students in RN to BSN programs increased 12.4% in 2013. Enrollment in graduate-level nursing programs also increased.

While entry-level baccalaureate enrollment slowed last year, many schools still could not accommodate all qualified applicants, according to the survey. More than 53,600 qualified applicants were turned away from 610 entry-level programs, largely because of faculty shortages, lack of funding, and lack of clinical placement sites. AACN said it anticipates this number will be even larger once final data is released in March.

“AACN applauds the efforts undertaken by schools to find successful and creative ways to expand the nursing student population despite resource constraints and other challenges facing many academic programs,” said the association's president, Jane Kirschling, Ph.D., RN, FAAN.

AACN announced that the survey data will be available via its website.

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