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New AACN Data Show the Impact of the Economy on the Nurse Faculty Shortage

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Press Release
For Immediate Release

New AACN Data Show the Impact of the Economy
on the Nurse Faculty Shortage

Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future and AACN
Select Five New Minority Scholars to Boost the Nurse Faculty Population

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 17, 2009 – New data collected by AACN show that the downturn in the economy may be impacting the nurse faculty shortage by lowering the national vacancy rate. Based on data received from 554 schools of nursing in the U.S. with baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs (70.2% response rate), the nurse faculty vacancy rate in 2009 was 6.6%, down from 7.6% in 2008. Many schools point to changes in faculty retirement patterns and hiring freezes at academic institutions as reasons for this presumably short-term easing of the shortage.

“Though AACN is pleased to see a lower faculty vacancy rate this year, we fully expect the shortage of nurse educators to re-emerge when the U.S. economy rallies and faculty retirement patterns resume,” said AACN President Fay Raines. “Over the next 15 years, workforce analysts project that the nation’s nursing shortage will grow twice as large as any shortage experienced in this country since the mid-1960s, and this will no doubt impact the supply of nurse faculty.”

Since 2000, AACN has collected data from member schools of nursing to assess the current state of the faculty shortage. The survey collects data on budgeted, but unfilled full-time faculty positions by rank, tenure, and level of teaching. This year, AACN opened the Faculty Vacancy Survey to both member and non-member schools to enhance our understanding of this issue. In July 2009, 803 faculty vacancies were identified at 310 nursing schools with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs across the country. Besides these vacancies, 117 schools cited the need to create 279 additional faculty positions to accommodate student demand. The latest data show a national nurse faculty vacancy rate of 6.6% with most of the vacancies (90.6%) for faculty positions requiring or preferring a doctoral degree. The top reasons cited by schools having difficulty finding faculty were noncompetitive salaries compared to positions in the practice arena (32.2%) and a limited pool of doctorally-prepared faculty (30.3%). Click here to review the 2009 survey findings.

Nursing schools report that the drop in faculty vacancies this year is due in part to the nation’s struggling economy. To maintain household income, fewer faculty are retiring, and many schools are facing budget cuts and hiring freezes which makes it difficult to grow their faculty pool. This pattern is similar to what is occurring in the registered nurse (RN) workforce, which has stabilized over the past few months. For example, many retired nurses are returning to work to maintain family income, and nurses considering retirement are holding onto their jobs. Some hospitals have instituted hiring freezes and are reducing services, which have released some experienced nurses back into the applicant pool. These developments, however, are not adding new nurses into the workforce to fill RN positions that are being created. Analysts with the Bureau of Labor Statistics project that more than 587,000 new RN positions will be created by 2016. For more information, see AACN’s talking points on the Impact of the Economy on the Nursing Shortage.

Five Minority Nurse Faculty Scholarship Winners Selected

The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future – AACN Minority Nurse Faculty Scholars Program was launched in September 2007 to support full-time minority students enrolled in graduate nursing programs. This program invites applications from students in master’s and doctoral programs who will serve as nurse faculty after completing their degree programs. Scholarship recipients were selected by a 10-member application review committee, and awards in the amount of $18,000 each will be disbursed this fall. This program provides financial support, leadership development, and mentoring for the faculty role. Joining the ten scholars previously selected for this prestigious honor are the following individuals:

  • Maria Garrido, DNP candidate, University of Miami
  • Andrea Gilmore, PhD candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Elizabeth Lopez, PhD candidate, Azusa Pacific University
  • M. Melanie Lyons, PhD candidate, University of Pennsylvania
  • Yasemin Turkman, PhD candidate, Yale University

“AACN applauds the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for sharing our commitment to enhancing diversity in the nurse faculty population,” added Dr. Raines. “These outstanding young scholars show exceptional promise and are well on their way to becoming excellent faculty members and future leaders of the profession.”

Profiles of all 38 Minority Nurse Faculty Scholars funded through the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future program and a similar initiative funded by The California Endowment are posted online at

Enhancing Diversity Among RNs and Faculty

Nursing’s leaders recognize a strong connection between a diverse nursing workforce and the ability to provide quality, culturally competent care. Though nursing has made great strides in recruiting and graduating nurses that mirror the patient population, more must be done before adequate representation becomes a reality. Attracting more students from under-represented groups into nursing – specifically men and individuals from African American, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, and Alaskan native backgrounds – is gaining in importance given the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projected need for more than a million new and replacement registered nurses by 2016.

The need to enhance diversity among nursing students is paralleled by the need to recruit more faculty from minority populations. With nearly a quarter of all baccalaureate and graduate nursing students in the U.S. as members of under-represented racial or ethnic minority groups, only 11.0% of full-time faculty teaching in these programs are from minority backgrounds according to the latest AACN data.

“Addressing the faculty shortage is a top priority for AACN, and we will continue to leverage our resources to bring new educators into the profession, particularly those from under-represented groups,” said Dr. Raines. “AACN welcomes the opportunity to work with other stakeholders to magnify our efforts and diminish this growing national concern.”

For the latest data on the nurse faculty shortage and efforts to enhance diversity within the nursing profession, see and

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for university and four-year college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 640 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide, AACN's educational, research, governmental advocacy, data collection, publications, and other programs work to establish quality standards for bachelor's- and graduate-degree nursing education, assist deans and directors to implement those standards, influence the nursing profession to improve health care, and promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. Website:

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Robert Rosseter
(202) 463-6930, x 231