Barriers to Expanding Nursing Education Programs in Public Funded State Universities and the Impact on Improving Health Care Access

Tuesday, 19 November 2013: 10:40 AM

Suzanne Fischer Prestoy, PhD, MSN, BS
Department of Nursing, College of Health Science, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, East Stroudsburg, PA, PA

Learning Objective 1: examine previously unrecognized barriers to expanding nursing education programs in publically funded state universities.

Learning Objective 2: describe how barrriers to expanding publically funded state university nursing educaiton programs directly impacts health care access at the primary and tertiary levels of care.

Health Care Reform calls for increasing primary care and tertiary/hospital care access for individuals in the United States. Essential to achieving this goal is an adequate supply of baccalaureate and masters prepared nurses. Current estimates indicate a severe shortage of baccalaureate and masters prepared nurses with one estimate of the shortage to be 200,000 by the year 2010. Even though this shortfall is recognized, several major, yet unexamined barriers exist that impede state universities’ ability to expand programs in nursing. Factors that impair expansion include politically motivated accountability measures of state universities’ use of tax dollars. Referred to as Performance Based Funding, these measures evaluate faculty productivity in quantitative based formulas that do not take into account workforce needs, society needs, or learning environment. An additional factor that works as a barrier to state university nursing program expansion is Title VIII nursing education funding, which funds nursing education through student loans and scholarships. These funds are not designed to assist state universities defray program costs, and inadvertently become additional barriers to nursing program enrolment expansion in the public sector. To impact the predicted severe shortage of baccalaureate and masters prepared nurses, and meet goals of health care reform,  federal and state legislators and policy makers must work together to develop a sustainable plan to increase the supply of the nation’s nurses and assist state universities to maintain and expand their nursing programs.