Towson University Faculty/Staff News • March 17, 2004
   
    

Wanted: 20,000 nurses

Program seeks partners to produce more graduates for Maryland's work force

For Jacquelyn Jordan, it's one of those maddening good news/bad news scenarios. The good news is that growing numbers of qualified men and women aspire to be nurses. The bad news is that TU—like most other U.S. baccalaureate nursing programs—can't educate most of them.

Jordan, who assumed the post of Department of Nursing chairperson eight months ago, is both heartened and distressed by the situation. “On one hand, nursing's image has improved tremendously, thanks to nationwide promotion initiatives and hospitals' efforts to make the profession more attractive,” she says. “But now that there's a surge in interest, nursing schools find they have neither the facilities nor the faculty to accommodate it.”

Another ironic twist is that nurses with master's degrees—the minimum academic preparation needed to teach at baccalaureate colleges or universities—can command much larger salaries in the field than in the classroom.

And that's especially frustrating given Maryland's need for an estimated 20,000 nurses by 2012, Jordan adds. TU is by no means alone in having to turn away far more qualified applicants than it admits to its academically rigorous program.

“Our maximum is 56 new students per semester,” she says, “and we had 197 who met the standards for admission for fall 2004. It's a travesty to have to deny the education to so many when the demand is so great.”

Still, Jordan is busily exploring ways to maximize limited resources and get more nurses into a profession that needs them desperately.

“We're looking at every opportunity to expand our program, given our constraints,” she says. “We have a successful partnership with the Greater Baltimore Medical Center that enables nurses employed there to earn baccalaureate degrees, and we're talking to other healthcare providers to see if we can partner to get more graduates into the work force.

 

“That may involve some creative approaches, such as facilities sharing and weekend programs,” she adds. “We're considering on-and off-campus options, so long as there's a need and the potential for collaboration.”    

Jordan, who recently was appointed to the Statewide Commission on the Crisis in Nursing,  says she's undertaking her quest with the support and encouragement of President Robert L. Caret.

 

“President Caret wants us to do whatever we can to respond to the state's nursing shortage,” she says. “He recognizes the dimensions of the crisis, and he understands what needs to be done.

 

“He really jumped in and took charge.”

Story by Jan Lucas/Photo by Kanji Takeno

 
   
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