The dean of the Indiana University School of Nursing calls the nationwide nursing shortage a “high urgency issue” and the three programs she oversees are responding by expanding student ranks. IUPUI will see the biggest boost with a 50% enrollment increase based on a $16 million gift from IU Health. Programs at IU Bloomington and IU Fort Wayne are also adding spots to train more nurses.
In an interview with Business of Health reporter Kylie Veleta, Dean Robin Newhouse said the shortage is multifaceted.
“It’s not only an economic problem. It’s a clinical problem, and it’s a health problem. The urgent need for nurses makes us concerned that people won’t get the care that they need,” said Newhouse. Nursing in particularly one of the largest clinical professions has a profound role to improve the health of the population.”
The shortage existed before the pandemic but was exacerbated by the healthcare crisis. Newhouse says being on the front lines of fighting COVID caused higher turnover rates than ever before, prompting IU to swell the ranks of nurses.
“Nurses themselves are trained in a lot of different ways. They work in multiple settings, the outcomes associated with nursing are important and promote health,” Newhouse said. “Nursing has a role in patient experience that increases satisfaction by patients as well. In addition, length of stay is lower as well as the return to the hospital or readmission to the hospital. So nursing is important for a number of ways.”
IU Bloomington says it plans to increase undergraduate enrollment for fall 2023 by accepting 40 more students into the BSN traditional track, which is designed for students studying for their first baccalaureate degree.
IU announced plans earlier this spring for nursing school enrollment increases at IUPUI and at its Fort Wayne campus. At IU School of Nursing Fort Wayne, a 25% increase in undergraduate enrollment began last year.
The IUPUI program has received a $16 million gift from IU Health it says will help grow the school’s undergraduate student enrollment by 50% over the next three years. IUPUI says the funds will support expansion of classroom, lab and simulation space, as well as student support services.
“We know that one of the most beneficial ways Indiana University can improve health outcomes in Indiana is to produce more nursing graduates that will focus on the health of the people of the state,” said Newhouse said when the IUPUI funding was announced. “Growing our program by 50% is not a simple task, but one that the IU School of Nursing is committed to seeing through to positively impact our state.”
The funding will also help with faculty and staff recruitment and education. IU says it plans to hire additional full-time faculty and create a one-year mentoring program to help first-time educators transition to the classroom.