US colleges aren't accepting enough nurses to offset shortage

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The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating a national nurse shortage, with many universities struggling to keep up with the growing demand for nurses, reports NPR and The Hechinger Report. 

For example, more than 1,200 people applied to the associate degree program in nursing at Long Beach (Calif.) City College, but the community college only accepted 32 applicants, while California State University, East Bay isn't enrolling any nursing students until at least next fall.

COVID-19 safety measures are limiting in-person instruction, and many hospitals have postponed clinical training. Some nursing teachers are quitting, while others are nearing retirement.  

Last year, U.S. universities rejected 80,407 qualified applicants for bachelor's and graduate degrees in nursing, citing a lack of faculty, classroom space and clinical opportunities in hospitals. That number doesn't include those turned down by community colleges.

Workforce estimates made before the pandemic vary significantly. A Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine formula projects a shortage of 510,394 registered nurses nationwide by 2030. In contrast, federal forecasts predict a shortfall in some states by then but a surplus in others by 2030. Experts agree, however, that shortages will be the worst in the West and South.  


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