Challenges and Opportunities: Student Nurses Navigate Shortages in Education Amid Staffing Crisis

Student Nurses Navigate Shortages in Nursing Education Amid Staffing Crisis | Future Education Magazine


In the face of a staffing crisis, student nurses in Everett find themselves grappling with shortages not only in healthcare facilities but also in nursing education opportunities. Cora Booth, a 25-year-old nursing student at Everett Community College, exemplifies the determination of aspiring nurses to make a difference amid chronic understaffing across the state.

Overwhelming Interest in Nursing Education

Booth, using they/them pronouns, is part of a cohort of 79 nursing students aiming to join the workforce in a climate of high demand and limited educational resources. The program at Everett Community College, like many others, faces the challenge of accommodating the overwhelming interest in nursing education.

The biggest hurdle, according to Jose Reyes, associate dean of nursing at the college, is the limited number of spots available in nursing programs. State law restricts each cohort to 40 slots, and despite some expansion efforts, the program’s maximum capacity remains at 279 students.

Elizabeth Cervantes, a student in the evening cohort, emphasizes the importance of such programs for non-traditional students. The evening program allows individuals like Cervantes, who works full-time as a medical translator, to pursue nursing education while catering to their unique schedules and needs.

The Competitiveness Adds Pressure on Students

However, limited spots translate to a highly competitive application process. Nursing programs often rely on a point system, considering factors such as GPA, test scores, financial status, languages spoken, and medical experience. The competitiveness adds pressure on students, making multiple application attempts common.

Expanding nursing programs faces additional challenges, particularly in securing enough clinical space. Clinical experience is a crucial component of nursing education, with students required to work 500 hours at local care facilities. A lack of clinical hours not only impedes student progress but also hinders programs from approving more student slots.

Despite these challenges, partnerships between educational institutions and healthcare facilities, such as the collaboration between Providence and Everett Community College, provide valuable clinical hours. The state’s recent legislation, equating an hour of clinical simulation to two hours of facility experience, aims to address the shortage of clinical space.

The Shortage of Nursing Educators

The pathway to becoming a nurse is laden with obstacles, from competitive admissions to the need for extensive clinical experience. The shortage of nursing educators further complicates the situation, with salaries for nursing instructors lagging behind those of practicing nurses.

Kirsti Boyd, an evening cohort instructor, emphasizes the rewards of teaching despite the challenges. Nursing educators play a crucial role in preparing students for a profession facing increasing demands and a staffing crisis. Boyd encourages open discussions about the realities of the profession, helping students navigate the complexities of a career in nursing.

As the nursing profession grapples with challenges, including burnout and safety concerns, aspiring nurses like Cora Booth remain hopeful. Despite experiencing understaffing in various healthcare facilities, Booth sees nursing as a profession on the frontline of change. With the determination to make a difference, student nurses navigate the uncertainties of their educational journey, fueled by the belief that they can contribute to alleviating the challenges facing the healthcare system.

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