Re "Nurse deficit afflicts state," June 11
One of the main problems with increasing enrollment or opening a new nursing program is the lack of registered nurses with a master's degree or higher in nursing. The costs for obtaining this additional education may be out of the reach for many potential nurses. A program waiving student loans for registered nurses who complete a master's in nursing program and agree to teach at a nursing program would go far in resolving this issue. Addressing the shortage of nursing faculty will go a long way in improving the availability of nursing programs for potential students.
ANN M. PAINTER RN
\o7Toms River, N.J.
As an educator at a small school for vocational nurses, I realize that anticipated shortages exist at all ends of the nursing-practice spectrum, whether it is licensed vocational, registered or advanced practice nurses. Missing from this article was any mention of the lack of the clinical training facilities available to student nurses on all career tracks. Many small community hospitals have closed their doors for economic reasons, leaving the schools fighting for the clinical training opportunities available at the remaining institutions. How can we expand schools and take more applicants if we have no place to train students?
I have two ideas to reduce the nursing shortage. As a retired registered nurse with a master's degree from UCLA, I have never been recruited as an instructor for a refresher class or to help teach nursing students. There is no doubt that many retired nurses, who could rejoin the workforce in lesser-demanding positions or as teachers, could alleviate the shortage.
Second, when I was a nursing student in 1968, hospital schools of nursing were abundant. Many of these schools were closed down. What about hospitals reopening these programs? That way, they would have a large group of student nurses who would likely remain at the hospitals after graduating as part of their workforce. It also would reduce the deplorable attrition rate in nursing schools because of the fact that many of the students would be working in the clinical area early in their education.
It is my experience that early clinical expertise improves students' ability to learn the academics. I worked with many hospital school nurse graduates over my 30-year career as a registered nurse, and they were excellent clinicians.
JACKIE SARLITT RN