Nursing program turns away students

Nick Walton

Faculty shortage

The College of Nursing is currently turning away 20 percent of qualified applicants, but not for financial reasons.

“The issue is that we need qualified faculty and what counts as qualification is determined by the state board,” said Laura Dzurec, dean of the College of Nursing. “Until the early 2000s, there wasn’t a lot of interest in nursing and suddenly that turned around. There’s a big faculty shortage, and now we have this glut of students wanting to get into nursing and where do you find the faculty?”

Curtis Good, director of student services for the College of Nursing, said the program is restricted by the number of students allowed in clinical training because of a state mandated ratio of 10 students to one instructor per clinical.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 27,771 qualified applicants were turned away from 406 entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs in 2008.

Good said Kent State’s program advances 200 students per academic year with the fall acceptance rate around 66 percent, while the spring acceptance rate is around 80 percent.

“One of the struggles for us is that we are a stand alone college with one major,” Good said. “It’s not as though I can say, ‘Oh well you didn’t do so well here, take one of our other majors.’ What we typically do is meet with students about other majors that are on campus so that if they struggle in nursing but still want to be in a health related field, they can do that.”

Dzurec said the college tries to keep the number of pre-nursing students admitted barely over the number of students who will be able to move on in the program, once they complete 30 credit hours, including specific science courses.

An alternate way the college is trying to get involvement in the program is providing an online program for students with an associate degree. The registered nurse to bachelor of science (or the RN to BSN) program is designed to increase enrollment of students who are registered nurses but don’t have a bachelor’s degree.

“It increases the likelihood that we’re going to be able to recruit and maintain students from out of state because we don’t have the physical grounds to keep someone,” Good said. “Every year associate degree programs graduate a lot of students – this is the ability for them to move forward and get a bachelor’s degree.”

Good said the online program helps enrollment because there is no limit to the number of students who can participate in the program.

The College of Nursing also offers an accelerated program for students who have a bachelor’s degree. This program allows for students to earn a second degree over the course of four semesters.

The College of Nursing is facing a $1,212,974 deficit as the university makes the transition to Responsibility Center Management. Under RCM, control of budgets transfers from central administration to individual colleges.

Dzurec said RCM will not have an effect on the number of students enrolled but will have an impact on the college because of the deficit.

“As it stands now, we’re a very expensive program,” Dzurec said. “With a 10-to-1 ratio, you’re paying a lot of money for faculty who have a lot of time committed to that small group of students.”

Dzurec said the faculty shortage problem is not as simple as it seems, and it’s important to follow state regulations.

“There have been a number of people who have wanted to solve this problem by creating new programs or paying someone who has been displaced by another job to come into nursing,” Dzurec said. “The shortage problem has to do with faculty and clinical science and the law. You have to have clinical experience, the state regulates the quality of that – it’s not as linear as people think it is.”

Contact health reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].