Despite a national nursing shortage in the United States, over 80,000 qualified applications were not accepted at U.S. nursing schools in 2020, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

This was due primarily to a shortage of nursing professors and a limited number of clinical placements where nursing students get practical job training. Additional constraints include a shortage of experienced practitioners to provide supervision during clinical training, insufficient classroom space and inadequate financial resources.

Although the 80,000 may not account for students who apply to multiple nursing schools, it clearly suggests that not all qualified students are able to enroll in nursing school.

I am a nurse researcher, professor of nursing and founding director of WIRES, an office at the University of South Florida that focuses on the well-being of the health care workforce. I’ve found that the nursing shortage is a complex issue that involves many factors – but chief among them is the shortage of faculty to train future nurses.

There are not enough new nurses entering the U.S. health care system each year to meet the country’s growing demand. This can have serious consequences for patient safety and quality of care.

In addition to a shortage of registered nurses, there is also a shortage of nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioner is identified as the second fastest-growing occupation in the next decade, after wind turbine technicians, with a projected increase of 52.2%. Nurse practitioners have an advanced scope of practice compared with registered nurses. They must complete additional clinical hours, earn a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing, and complete additional certifications to work with specific patient populations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the health and wellness problems of the nursing workforce. Despite these problems, student enrollment in nursing schools increased in 2020. The pandemic has not turned people away from wanting to pursue a career in nursing. However, without enough nursing faculty and clinical sites, there will not be enough new nurses to meet the health care demands of the nation.

Read the full article about nurse shortage by Rayna M. Letourneau at The 74.