US nursing school enrollments rose 6% in 2020

Nursing schools last year saw a 6 percent increase in enrollment in bachelor's degree nursing programs, to 250,856, according to a survey cited Feb. 18 by Kaiser Health News.

The finding is based on preliminary data from an annual American Association of Colleges of Nursing survey of 900 nursing schools.

Several factors likely contribute to the finding. But Deborah Trautman, PhD, RN, president and CEO of the association, suggested that an increased visibility of nurses during the pandemic may be playing a role. 

"In the pandemic we saw an increased visibility of nurses, and I think that's been inspirational to many people," she told KHN. "It's a profession where you can make a difference."

David Benton, CEO of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, also suggested that the profession may be under consideration by some people who previously earned nursing degrees but did not practice. He told KHN the number of nurses who were educated in the U.S. and took the National Council Licensure Examination for nurses last year jumped 5 percent from 2019.

Although two-year associate nursing degree programs appear to be seeing a similar increase as bachelor's programs, hard numbers are unavailable, Laura Schmidt, president of the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing, said in the report. 

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