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“Why wouldn’t you want to be a nurse?” Trautman asked. “There are so many ways to contribute.”
The pandemic also highlighted the exhaustion and burnout frontline nurses can feel, physically weary from lack of sleep and emotionally worn from watching patients die and families grieve. The stress isnt new in the health profession but it’s finally being recognized, Trautman said.
“It’s shown us that we need to be proactive and focus on our own wellbeing early before we can’t continue on in the job,” she said.
The perseverance of nurses is often framed as a heart-warming story, but Valentine said this selflessness isn’t necessarily a positive thing. It indicates that nurses should still be able to do their job without appropriate equipment, protection, staff, breaks, hazardous pay or attention to mental health, she said.
“Seeing it as heroic is popular because it’s harder to address the deeper structural issues in the healthcare system,” she said.
Valentine said one positive of the increased visibility is greater recognition that nurses are highly skilled. She hopes more will be allowed to practice to the top of their license.
“I have a concern that we don’t romanticize the nobleness of the profession over the depth and breadth of knowledge required in nursing,” Valentine said.
Stories of both heroism and burnout have become common during the pandemic, so much so that Valentine wasn’t sure which way the application pendulum would swing. Potential students could be scared away or drawn in.
“Now we can see that the attraction is greater,” she said.
Claire Schick, the representative for the freshman nursing class at Clemson, said she wasn’t dissuaded by the past year. Rather, it reinforced her decision.
“I just wish I already had the education under my belt so I could help,” she said. “It was frustrating that the only thing stopping me from helping was the timing of when I went to school.”
U.S. nursing schools turned away 80,407 qualified applications from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2019 due to insufficient resources
Clemson University’s School of Nursing received 3,378 applications for next school year, a 68 percent increase. But the number of open slots remains the same — 176.
Thats an acceptance rate of 5.2 percent, the same as Harvard University.
“The interest is there, but we can’t fully act on it because the infrastructure required to act on that interest isn’t easy,” said Kathleen Valentine, director of Clemson Universitys School of Nursing and chief academic nursing officer at Prisma Health–Upstate.
The pandemic has put health care careers like nursing in the spotlight. In the U.S., nursing baccalaureate program enrollment increased 6 percent last year, based on a survey of 900 nursing schools by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The previous year showed a 5.1 percent jump.
“I feel like there’s this new respect for nursing because it’s been one of the most influential jobs this past year,” said Savannah Manning, a freshman nursing student at Clemson.
A nationwide shortage of nursing faculty limits the number of students programs can accept, leading to an ongoing shortage of nurses in certain regions. The issue is particularly relevant to South Carolina, which has 7.89 nurses per 1,000 residents, the lowest of any state, according to NurseJournal.org.
Nurses make more money in practice than education, and many faculty positions require a doctoral degree, which requires time and money. The national nurse faculty vacancy rate of 7.2 percent is almost entirely made up of positions that require or prefer a doctoral degree, according to the AACN.
“It’s not a high percentage of faculty vacancies, but it’s mostly in doctorally prepared faculty, and it’s one of the primary reasons we’re turning away qualified applicants,” said Deborah Trautman, CEO of the AACN.
U.S. nursing schools turned away 80,407 qualified applications from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2019 due to insufficient resources, including the number of faculty and clinical preceptors, according to data from the AACN.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of nurses to increase by 221,900 to 3.3 million from 2019 to 2029. In the same decade, it predicts 175,900 openings for registered nurses each year.
Exacerbating the shortage is the trend of nurses aging out of the field as the number of baby boomers needing care increases. The average age of nurses was 50 in 2018, according to a survey by The Health Resources and Services Administration.
The shortage problem requires solutions from academia, Trautman said. Organizations provide funding for nursing doctoral programs and many programs now allow faculty to have a practice on the side. The AACN has also been working to share how rewarding a path in nursing education can be, she said.
Trautman said the pandemic gave visibility to whats always been true: nursing is an honorable but trying career. The public got a front seat to see how nursing directly contributed to fighting the health crisis by taking care of people, helping connect families when they couldn’t physically be together, educating communities, and, now, administering vaccines, she said.
The School of Nursing at Clemson University offers students the opportunity to engage with top-tier faculty as they progress through a rigorous curriculum designed to prepare them for success in the nursing field. With limited space, nursing is often one of the most competitive majors for entry at Clemson University. The program is direct admission, meaning there is no re-application process for progression to the upper level nursing courses for those students who are admitted as freshmen.
Is it hard to get into Clemson nursing?
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