AACN Fact Sheet - Nursing Faculty Shortage (2023)

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(Video) There is No Nursing Shortage: Here's the Real Issue | Nurse Practitioner Reacts
(Video) Nurse Faculty Shortage

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Faculty shortages at nursing schools across the country are limiting student capacity at a time when the need for professional registered nurses continues to grow. Budget constraints, an aging faculty, and increasing job competition from clinical sites have contributed to this crisis.

To minimize the impact of faculty shortages on the nation’s nursing shortage, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is leveraging its resources to secure federal funding for faculty development programs, collect data on faculty vacancy rates, identify strategies to address the shortage, and focus media attention on this important issue.

Scope of the Nursing Faculty Shortage

  • According to AACN’s report on 2021-2022 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away 91,938 qualified applications from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2021 due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints. Most nursing schools responding to the survey pointed to faculty shortages as a top reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into their programs.
  • According to a Special Survey on Vacant Faculty Positions released by AACN in October 2022, a total of 2,166 full-time faculty vacancies were identified in a survey of 909 nursing schools with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs across the country (84.4% response rate). Besides the vacancies, schools cited the need to create an additional 128 faculty positions to accommodate student demand. The data show a national nurse faculty vacancy rate of 8.8%. Most of the vacancies (84.9%) were faculty positions requiring or preferring a doctoral degree.

Factors Contributing to the Faculty Shortage

Faculty age continues to climb, narrowing the number of productive years educators teach.

According to AACN's report on 2021-2022 Salaries of Instructional and Administrative Nursing Faculty, the average ages of doctorally prepared nurse faculty holding the ranks of professor, associate professor, and assistant professor were 62.5, 56.7, and 50.6 years, respectively. For master's degree-prepared nurse faculty, the average ages for professors, associate professors, and assistant professors were 55.0, 54.7, and 48.6 years, respectively.

A wave of faculty retirements is expected across the U.S. over the next decade.

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According to an article published in Nursing Outlook on Retirements and Succession of Nursing Faculty in 2016-2025 by Drs. Di Fang and Karen Kesten, one third of the current nursing faculty workforce in baccalaureate and graduate programs are expected to retire by 2025. This finding underscores the urgency for the nursing education community to address the impending exodus of senior faculty and to develop younger faculty for succession.

Higher compensation in clinical and private-sector settings is luring current and potential nurse educators away from teaching.

According to the latest Nurse Salary Research Report issued by Nurse.com, the median salary across advanced practice registered nurse roles is $120,000. By contrast, AACN reported in March 2022 that the average salary for a master’s-prepared professors in schools of nursing is $87,325.

Master’s and doctoral programs in nursing are not producing a large enough pool of potential nurse educators to meet the demand.

In April 2022, AACN reported that for the first time since 2001, enrollment inmaster’s programsdecreased by 3.8%, which translates to 5,766 fewer students enrolled in 2021 than in 2020.In addition, enrollment in PhD nursing programs were also down. Since PhD program enrollment began to dip in 2013, enrollment in these programs have decreased by 13%, from 5,145 students in 2013 to 4,476 students in 2021.

Further, efforts to expand the nurse educator population are frustrated by the fact that thousands of qualified applicants to graduate nursing programs are turned away each year. In 2021, AACN found that 9,574 qualified applicants were turned away from master's programs, and 5,169 qualified applicants were turned away from doctoral programs. The primary reasons for not accepting all qualified students were a shortage of faculty, preceptors, and clinical education sites.

Strategies to Address the Faculty Shortage

  • AACN is taking steps to address the nurse faculty shortage by working with the Jonas Philanthropies to support doctoral nursing students; by advocating for new federal legislation and increased funding for graduate education; hosting an annual faculty development conference; collecting data to quantify the scope of the shortage; promoting faculty careers through the Graduate Nursing Student Academy; and collaborating with national nursing organizations and practice partners to help identify solutions.
  • Since 2008, the Jonas Philanthropies has focused on expanded the nation’s supply of doctoral-prepared nurses available to serve as faculty, scientists, and clinicians. Administered in collaboration with AACN, the Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program has provided financial support and leadership development to more than 900 Scholars in all 50 states.
  • Many statewide initiatives are underway to address the shortage of nurse educators. For example, the Maryland Higher Education Commission has provided nearly $27 million to support 938 nurse faculty members through a variety of programs, including the New Nurse Faculty Fellowship Program. This program is funded by the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission and supported by an annual percentage of Maryland hospitals’ patient revenue. In October 2022, Hawaii Governor David Ige announced that $1.75 million would be included in his budget request to hire 39 new instructor positions to help address the state’s severe faculty shortage and support nursing programs statewide. Read more about initiatives underway in Missouri, South Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
  • To increase the number of clinical nurse educators, which are also known as preceptors, several states including Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, South Carolina, and Virginia offer tax incentives for nurses serving in these teaching roles. Legislations has also been introduced or is pending in New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island.
  • Schools of nursing are forming academic-practice partnerships and working collaboratively with other stakeholders to bridge the faculty gap. For example, in April 2022 HCA Healthcare announced a $1.5 million partnership with Florida International University to address national nursing faculty shortage.
  • In January 2021, the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP) has released its 17th annual report to Congress titled Preparing Nurse Faculty and Addressing the Shortage of Nurse Faculty and Clinical Preceptors. NACNEP is calling on a public-private response to develop, support, and fund a wide range of initiatives to address the shortage of nurse faculty and enhance nursing education and training. The NACNEP report calls on Congress to focus on three priorities to fully address this perennial concern, including:
    • Provide funding to programs that increase the number of nurse faculty and clinical preceptors and support nurse faculty development.
    • Provide funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration to develop a nurse faculty residency program that emphasizes strategies to improve faculty recruitment, preparation, development, and retention.
    • Create a national center devoted to nursing education and the development of nurse faculty and clinical preceptors.
  • The federal government administers several programs specifically targeted to addressing the nurse faculty shortage:
    • Administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Nurse Faculty Loan Program assists graduate students pursing faculty careers. Students must agree to teach at a school of nursing in exchange for cancellation of up to 85% of their educational loans, plus interest, over a four-year period.
    • The Faculty Loan Repayment Program administered by HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce provides up to $40,000 in loan repayment for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who serve as faculty at eligible health professions schools for a minimum of two years.
    • HRSA’s Nurse Corps Repayment Program provides nurse faculty who commit to working in an eligible nursing school with up to 60% in debt cancellation for two years of services, and an additional 25% for a third year of service.
    • In October 2022, the Department of Labor announced a new $80 million initiative, the Nursing Expansion Grant Program, which includes funding for the Nurse Education Professional Track to prepare experienced current or former nurses for teaching roles.
    • The Department of Education routinely identifies programs that prepare nurse faculty as eligible for funding through the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program.
  • AACN operates NursingCAS, the nation’s centralized application service for prelicensure and graduate nursing programs. One of the primary reasons for launching NursingCAS was to ensure that all vacant seats in schools of nursing are filled. In 2021, more than 14,700 vacant seats were identified in master’s and doctoral nursing programs alone. NursingCAS provides a mechanism to fill these seats and maximize the educational capacity of schools of nursing.

Recent Articles on the Faculty Shortage

Last Update: October 2022


Robert Rosseter
(202) 463-6930, ext. 231

(Video) Fast-tracking education may help with nursing shortage


What is the answer to the nursing shortage? ›

The nursing shortage cannot be solved unless higher education institutions train more nurses. Research and interviews with experts present ample evidence that capacity within higher education is significantly lower than what is needed.

How can nurses best combat the nursing shortage? ›

Nurses can combat the nursing shortage by: A. Joining unions, which influence employers to provide incentives such as pay raises and free child care, thus encouraging the large percentage of nonworking nurses to return to the workforce.

How many nurse educators are needed in the US? ›

According to a Special Survey on Vacant Faculty Positions released by AACN in October 2022, a total of 2,166 full-time faculty vacancies were identified in a survey of 909 nursing schools with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs across the country (84.4% response rate).

Why is there a shortage of nurses in the US? ›

But now, nursing faces another shortage, and while the pandemic played a big role, the problems are rooted in a demographic shift: An aging population is increasing the demand for medical care, a generation of nurses is retiring – and as they go, not enough nurses are staying to train the generation taking their place.

How can we solve the nursing faculty shortage? ›

Another idea for alleviating the nursing faculty shortage is to inspire students to consider teaching. Research has indicated that providing BSN students with insight into the faculty role, as well as providing teaching experiences and encouragement may help students decide to pursue a faculty role.

Why is there a nursing shortage 2022? ›

Nov. 1, 2022, at 4:16 p.m. Fueled by factors like employee burnout, an aging population and a dearth of training, states across the country are facing a familiar and common problem: a nursing shortage.

What is a major factor that has caused a shortage of nurses? ›

Advancements in modern medical care that prolong life. While this is a good thing, it also means that people are living much longer than before, and needing more care as they age. The nursing workforce simply isn't large enough to handle the older people who are living longer due to better health care.

Why are nurses leaving the profession? ›

Staffing shortages were the top reason nurses cited for planning to leave their jobs, followed by needing better work-life balance, the survey out Tuesday said. Nurses also said they planned to leave their roles because their mental health is at risk and they feel a lack of appreciation.

How can we solve shortage of staff in healthcare? ›

These include: Adjusting staff schedules, hiring additional HCP, and rotating HCP to positions that support patient care activities. Cancel all non-essential procedures and visits. Shift HCP who work in these areas to support other patient care activities in the facility.

Are nursing instructors in demand? ›

Nursing faculty are in high demand across the nation.

What is the average age of a nurse educator? ›

The average age of an employed nurse educator is 44 years old.

Where do nurse educators make the most money? ›

High Paying Nurse Educator Jobs
  • Clinical Informatics Educator. Salary range: $102,000-$155,500 per year. ...
  • Nursing Program Director. Salary range: $77,500-$114,000 per year. ...
  • Nursing Education Consultant. ...
  • Nursing Education Specialist. ...
  • Rn Faculty. ...
  • Clinical Nursing Instructor. ...
  • Nursing Instructor. ...
  • Nursing Professor.

What state has the highest nursing shortage? ›

California has the worst nursing shortage in the United States. It's predicted that by 2030, California will be in need of over 44,000 nurses. Other states with major hospital staff shortages include New Mexico, Vermont, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Arizona.

What state needs nurses the most? ›

Projected RN Shortages by State

California tops the list with an estimated 44,500 deficit in registered nurses, nearly three times the deficit in the next shortest state. Texas, New Jersey, and South Carolina will lack more than 10,000 RNs; Alaska, Georgia, and South Dakota will each be short several thousand.

How many nurses are expected to retire in 2022? ›

There are approximately 3.9 million registered nurses (RNs) in the U.S., and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that more than 500,000 RNs will retire by 2022.

What is the result of the lack of nursing faculty? ›

Despite a growing interest in the nursing profession, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) argues that a lack of qualified nursing faculty across U.S. nursing programs will limit the industry's ability to meet the growing demand for healthcare.

How do you address the current nursing shortage? ›

In response to this national shortage, states have examined a variety of options to recruit and retain nurses. Specific policy levers include loosening licensing requirements, changing scope of practice laws, bolstering educational programs, and offering monetary incentives.

What happens if we don't fix the nursing shortage? ›

Ninety-two percent of all emergency departments have reported the problem of overcrowding, which can lead to an increase in the duration of hospitalization, performance of additional procedures, permanent disability or even death.

Is being a nurse worth it 2022? ›

Reasons to Consider a Nursing Career in 2022

The nursing profession is one of the most rewarding, challenging, and respectable jobs out there. Nurses are vitally important in all sorts of healthcare settings, just as much as doctors and surgeons, and they often work in an even more hands-on way with patients.

Is the shortage of nurses expected to resolve soon? ›

Some researchers estimate that 1 million registered nurses will retire by 2030. In the past, hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other health-care facilities have turned to staffing agencies during shortages.

What is the average age of registered nurses? ›

In the United States, the average age of a registered nurse was 43.5 years old.
Distribution of registered nurses in the United States in 2019, by age group.
CharacteristicNumber of registered nurses
11 more rows
3 May 2021

What causes understaffing in nursing? ›

The main reasons for understaffing are: High turnover due to overstressed staff. Stress and emotional pressure for constant overtime and a constant need to keep working. A lack of available registered or certified nursing staff with adequate education and training.

How do nurses feel about staff shortages? ›

Nursing staff report feeling “guilty” about not providing a good standard amid a chronic staffing shortage. A survey of 3,023 frontline nurses by NursingNotes reveals that 81% of registered nurses say they regularly leave essential patient care undone due to a lack of staff.

What age do most nurses retire? ›

For nurses with time to plan, the prospect of an early or timely retirement with a properly sized financial portfolio and social security benefits appeals to them when they reach the current full retirement age of about 67 years or even before at 62 years (without full social security benefits).

How long does the average nurse stay in the profession? ›

There are many reasons that nurses leave the profession and there are many overlapping systems within healthcare. But, one study found that a staggering 17% - 30% of new nurses leave their job within the first year and up to 56% leaving within the second year.

What can I be instead of nursing? ›

Similar Professions to Nursing
  • Medical Assistant. A medical assistant is a certified healthcare professional that takes on both administrative and clinical tasks in a medical practice. ...
  • Dental Hygienist. ...
  • Histology Technician. ...
  • Respiratory Therapist. ...
  • Occupational Therapy Assistant.
8 May 2020

How can we solve the problem of shortage? ›

8 Ways to Fix Shortage Issues
  1. Expedite Parts. ...
  2. Improve Forecasting. ...
  3. Improve Lead Time Accuracy. ...
  4. Eliminate Single Point Failures. ...
  5. Develop a Shortage Attack Team (or better shortage management processes) ...
  6. Improve Supplier Collaboration. ...
  7. Ensure accurate inventory data. ...
  8. Regularly update PFEP.

What can be done to overcome shortage of workers? ›

Train and cross train existing employees.

Cross training is another efficient way to help employees gain skills in different departments and apply those skills to their respective tasks. Employees with wider skillsets increase their flexibility to fill different needs around the community.

What are strategies to deal with workforce shortages? ›

7 Ways to Deal With the Labor Shortage in 2022
  • Get Creative with Recruitment.
  • Partner Up.
  • Trim the Fat of Admin Tasks.
  • Be Flexible with Schedules.
  • Perk Up Employee Benefits.
  • Change Your Management Style.
  • Open Up to Different People.

What pays better nursing or teaching? ›

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs earned a median pay of $77,600 in 2021, while nursing instructors and teachers at the postsecondary level earned a similar median pay of $77,440.

Is teaching more stressful than nursing? ›

From an outside perspective, teaching might seem like a much less stressful job than being a nurse or physician. However, according to a recent poll, 46% of teachers report high daily stress, which ties them with nurses for the most stressful occupation in America today.

Is being a nurse educator stressful? ›

Nurse Educator

This is one of the least stressful nursing jobs available. While the responsibility of educating the future generations of nurses is indeed tremendous, the work environment is definitely a lot more low-pressure, and the hours are reasonable.

Are nurse educators happy? ›

The majority of nurse educators find their personalities quite well suited to their work, with relatively few having complaints about their fit.

What is the oldest you can be to train as a nurse? ›

There is no upper age limit to start nurse training but you should discuss any concerns that you might have about your suitability for training with the universities offering courses.

Is 60 too old to become a nurse? ›

And the most popular question: Am I too old? The answer is that going back to school to earn your nursing degree is an incredibly rewarding experience; you're never too old to become a nurse!

Which nursing field gets paid the most? ›

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Salary. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists earn a median salary of $195,610 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, making it the top paying nursing specialty.

Do msn get paid more than bsn? ›

MSN Salary Differences. Advanced education is often accompanied by higher annual salaries. According to PayScale, as of June 2021, nurses with a BSN had a median annual salary of around $86,800, while nurses with an MSN had a median salary of around $96,300.

Which nursing field makes the most money? ›

Highest Paid Nursing Jobs:
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist – $202,000.
  • Nursing Administrator – $120,000.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse – $120,000.
  • General Nurse Practitioner – $118,000.
  • Critical Care Nurse – $118,000.
  • Certified Nurse Midwife – $114,000.
  • Informatics Nurse – $102,000.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist – $95,000.
5 Sept 2022

Where do the happiest nurses work? ›

But Nurse.org found that nurse educators, home health nurses, nurse managers, OR-perioperative nurses, and pediatric nurses reported the highest levels of job satisfaction.

Which states have the happiest nurses? ›

Best States for Nurses Satisfaction and Happiness
  • Minnesota (Quality of life ranking #2, Hospital rating by nurses 86%)
  • Wisconsin (Quality of life ranking #3, Hospital rating by nurses 88%)
  • Oregon (Quality of life ranking #18, Hospital rating by nurses inconclusive)
15 Feb 2022

What states pay the least for nurses? ›

Highest-paying states for RNs, adjusted for cost of living

As of 2021, Hawaii tops the list at 119.3, while Mississippi comes in lowest, at 87.8. Adjusting each state's average RN salary by its cost of living index gives us a potentially more accurate means of comparing where nurses get paid the most.

What type of nursing is most in demand? ›

The Highest-Demand Nursing Specialties
  • Neonatal Nurse. Babies who are born prematurely commonly experience a variety of health issues early on, and this is where a neonatal nurse comes in. ...
  • Clinical Nurse. ...
  • Dialysis Nurse. ...
  • Nurse Practitioner. ...
  • Nurse Advocate.

What state is the easiest to become a nurse? ›

Easiest states to become a nurse – Length of licensing process
  • Maine: 1-2 weeks.
  • Maryland: 2-3 days.
  • Missouri: 2 weeks.
  • Nevada: 1-2 weeks.
  • North Carolina: 1-2 weeks.
  • North Dakota: 1-2 weeks.
  • Texas: 2 weeks.
  • Vermont: 3-5 business days.

How many nurses will leave by 2030? ›

According to the report, as many as 13 million more nurses may be needed by 2030; the world's current nursing workforce totals approximately 28 million. The report explains that taking action to sustain and retain workers could minimize the shortage.

Why nurses are leaving the profession? ›

Staffing shortages were the top reason nurses cited for planning to leave their jobs, followed by needing better work-life balance, the survey out Tuesday said. Nurses also said they planned to leave their roles because their mental health is at risk and they feel a lack of appreciation.

Why can nurses retire at 55? ›

Benefits of Special Class Status

Members of the NHS Pension Scheme who hold 'SC Status' are eligible to retire at age 55. In order to retire at age 55 a member must have spent the whole of the last five years pensionable employment in a health service scheme as a member of the special classes.

Why do people quit nursing? ›

The answer is often a combination of common nursing frustrations (such as staffing and respect), a desire for a better quality of life, and burnout, the enemy of so many nurses.

How do you handle staffing shortages? ›

How to Manage a Staffing Shortage
  1. Act on Employee Feedback. ...
  2. Implement Reskilling and Upskilling Initiatives. ...
  3. Promote Work-Life Balance. ...
  4. Improve Your Company Culture. ...
  5. Increase Company Perks and Benefits. ...
  6. Hire Short-Term Workers. ...
  7. Continue to Build a Strong Team.

Why should we care about the nursing shortage? ›

Nursing shortages lead to errors, higher morbidity, and mortality rates. In hospitals with high patient-to-nurse ratios, nurses experience burnout, dissatisfaction, and the patients experienced higher mortality and failure-to-rescue rates than facilities with lower patient-to-nurse ratios.

How do you address a nursing shortage? ›

In response to this national shortage, states have examined a variety of options to recruit and retain nurses. Specific policy levers include loosening licensing requirements, changing scope of practice laws, bolstering educational programs, and offering monetary incentives.

What percentage of nurses leave the profession? ›

More than one-third (34%) of nurses say it's very likely that they will leave their roles by the end of 2022 and 44% cited burnout and a high-stress environment as the reason for their desire to leave, according to a new survey by technology-based nursing hiring platform Incredible Health.

Are nurses responsible for errors that result from staffing shortages? ›

Due to the high-intensity nature of nurses' work, nurses become at risk of committing errors while providing routine care. Without adequate staffing ratios, nurses are responsible for caring for more patients, often leading to additional interruptions which is shown to increase patient safety errors as well.

Where are nurses needed most? ›

The 10 Best Places to Work as a Registered Nurse
  1. Hospitals. Around 61% of RNs find employment at state, private, and local hospitals. ...
  2. Telehealth. ...
  3. Emergency Rooms. ...
  4. Physicians' Offices. ...
  5. Secondary Schools. ...
  6. Birthing Centers. ...
  7. Public Health Clinics. ...
  8. Correctional Facilities.


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