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Needed In Wisconsin: At Least 27,000 Nurses

Lori Kenzen/UW-Madison

Wisconsin News Connection is here.

MADISON, Wis. - The need for registered nurses continues to grow in Wisconsin.

That's prompted the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing to launch a program that allows people who already hold a bachelor's degree in a different subject to get a nursing degree with one additional, full year of intense instruction. The needs of Wisconsin's aging population and the changing demands of the health care system are driving the new program, according to Nursing School Dean Linda Scott.

Scott says Wisconsin nursing schools right now are graduating about 3,000 nurses per year, when about 7,000 more are needed. "So, if you look at that data and extrapolate it to, say, 2040, we will have a deficit of somewhere around 27,000 nurses in the state," she points out. Scott says 86 percent of the nursing program graduates continue to live and practice in the state, and graduating more nurses through the new, expedited program will help to address the shortfall.

The Accelerated Nursing Program requires students who already have an undergraduate degree to spend 12 solid months in intensive instruction. Scott says the new program won't sacrifice one bit of the rigor or standards of a four-year nursing program. "It has a level of intensity because of the pace, but the content and the competencies that are required to become a practicing nurse are the same," she stress

In addition to providing a faster track into the field of nursing, Scott says the accelerated program also frees up more openings in the regular, four-year nursing program. "We knew that there were a number of students who applied to that program who already had baccalaureate degrees or higher in other fields," she explains. "And so, by having a second degree program, we could allow students to apply to that program, which then would free up seats in our traditional program."

Scott acknowledges it's a long, hard pull through the new program without the traditional summer and winter breaks, but she says it will attract highly motivated students who are ready for the challenge.

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