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Coming shortage of nurses compounded by retiring UW instructors

Shamane Mills, Wisconsin Public Radio

A shortage of future nurses has prompted four University of Wisconsin campuses to seek instructors.

In two decades, it's estimated Wisconsin will have a shortage of 20,000 nurses. Compounding the problem is a lack of instructors, which limits the number of new students who can be enrolled in nursing programs.

In 2012-2013, more than half the qualified undergrads who applied to four campus nursing programs were denied not because they weren't qualified, but because there weren't enough teachers. 

Gale Barber, the assistant dean of UW-Madison's School of Nursing, said current faculty are nearing retirement.

“The average age of the nursing professorate is close to 60 and within the next five to 10 years there's going to be a significant departure of faculty,” she said, “and we need younger nurses to come into the faculty role and have long careers as educators and researchers.”

To get young nurses on the faculty track, four campuses offering advanced nursing degrees will provide fellowships. In addition, the four schools in Madison, Eau Claire, Milwaukee and Oshkosh, will offer loan forgiveness to attract nursing faculty. It's hoped a shared $3.2 million grant will get young nurses into teaching.