Nursing program gets short changed

Although U nursing educators are happy to take anything they can get, the money given to the U’s College of Nursing falls short of what is needed.

The state Legislature allocated $525,000 to the state’s nursing initiative, with $150,000 going to the U, which will go toward hiring more faculty, according to Dean of Nursing Maureen Keefe.

But the allotment isn’t enough.

“It is a drop in the bucket,” said Kim Wirthlin, U health sciences assistant vice president.

If the Legislature had allocated more money, it could have been used for larger enrollment in nursing schools.

“Any bit of money helps, but it isn’t close to what we need,” Wirthlin said.

“We need to expand nursing education.”

Keefe looks to the increasing need for nurses in Utah.

“We need somewhere between 1,000 to 2,000 more nurses in the state,” Keefe said.

The U will recruit doctoral and master’s degree students who want to teach undergraduates.

“We’re going to expand faculty education,” Wirthlin said.

Keefe said the $6.6 million the nursing initiative asked for would have enabled the U to double the number of nursing graduates.

If the shortage trend continues, Keefe said by the year 2020 there will be a shortage of 1 million nurses in the United States.

“With the baby boomers going into retirement, there will a much more severe shortage,” Keefe said.

The administration will reassess the shortage throughout the year and determine how much to ask the Legislature for next year.

“[Money allocated] is a good start,” Keefe said. “It will help all programs at the U a little bit.”

The U will also be asking the U hospital for money throughout the year.

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