FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — During the pandemic, two local nursing programs have seen increases in students.
“We actually have seen an increase in enrollment at all of our nursing levels so ASN nursing BSN and our master’s degree programs,” said Dr. Angie Harrell, the Dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of St. Francis. “I think during the pandemic, there was a lot of attention on the essential work that nurses do. It’s been very clear that nurses make a difference in people’s lives and I think a lot of our students are drawn to that. They come here because they want to help people.”
Ivy Tech’s nursing program has seen a similar trend, although it has a limited enrollment program, meaning it only admits a limited number of students based on its accreditation.
“Many more students apply than the program is able to accept. So, demand always exceeds availability,” said Aja Michael-Keller, Ivy Tech’s Executive Director of Marketing and Communications. “Enrollment in the program has grown even through the pandemic.”
During the 2019-2020 school year, Ivy Tech’s Associate of Science in Nursing and Practical Nursing students program had 390 students enrolled. In the 2020-2021 school year that number jumped to 429. The numbers for the upcoming year were not available yet.
Harrell said this increase arguably couldn’t be coming at a better time. Surging COVID-19 cases across the country have caused a shortage of nurses that can no longer keep up with the flood of patients– and are getting burned out.
“I think though as we look at just the demands in health care,” said Harrell. “Absolutely it’s more important now than ever that we help the shortage and that we add to the the workforce in a way that’s contributing to meet that need.”
The USF Dean also added that the shortage will likely “only continue in the years to come.”
“If you just look at data [of] the age of the nursing population and with retirement, and then at the aging of our population in need for care of them. It kind of contributes to the fact that we [will continue to] have a nursing shortage,” said Harrell.