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13 October 2006

Latham Named to SREB Post

Jacksonville State University’s nursing dean is the newest member of a group that’s trying to solve the nursing shortage across the South. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) has voted Sarah V. Latham to a post on its Council on Collegiate Education for Nursing.

“Everyone is aware of the drastic nursing shortage,” Latham said. “What they don’t fully appreciate is the shortage is getting worse, and the real problem is the nursing faculty shortage. “It’s not an isolated issue that just nurses care about. We are talking about the health of the country here.”

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 41,000 qualified applicants in 2005 because of a shortage of faculty to teach them. That’s about 9,000 more rejected applicants than the previous year.

The association also found an average of about two faculty vacancies per school. With between 200 and 300 nursing faculty holding doctoral degrees eligible to retire every year until 2012, the situation could worsen.

Eula Aiken, director of the SREB council, which researches education policy in 16 southern states, said surveys in Alabama show that 120 qualified nursing school applicants could not be accepted last year because of the shortage of teachers. The state also expects 45 faculty to retire by 2009.

With so few teachers, the federal government predicts a national shortfall of registered nurses will reach 800,000 by 2020.

Latham said nursing schools can’t offer competitive salaries to nurses who are practicing in a clinical setting.

The AACN reports a nurse-practitioner with a master’s degree earns an average of $72,480. The average nursing faculty member with a master’s earns $55,712. Most teach on nine-month contracts.

See story at The Anniston Star's website: .

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