A recent CNN.com story reported that U.S. nursing schools turned away nearly 6,000 qualified applicants in 2001, despite a nationwide nursing shortage. The American Nurses Association reports that by the year 2020, the U.S. will be short more than 800,000 registered nurses.
Dr. Susan Baker, director of Texas A&M International University's Dr. F.M. Canseco School of Nursing, said the School has not had to turn away any qualified applicants, but that class sizes are reaching capacity.
"The number of students in the School of Nursing is directly tied to the number of faculty members we can hire. Our program has more than 1,000 hours of hands-on learning, or clinical hours, and for every 10 students, we must have one faculty member. The clinical work is where our students get competency and it helps them retain more information for the future," said Baker.
Due to the current State budget worries, Baker thinks that TAMIU's Nursing School classes will probably be limited to about 40 students.
"This May, 26 students are expected to graduate. We have 38 juniors and 36 sophomores started this Semester," explained Baker, "A few students will decide to leave the program for a variety of reasons, but 40 per class will probably be the top number we can effectively educate without hiring additional faculty."
Baker said that the Nursing School works hard to ensure that every qualified student is accepted into the program and that they are well prepared for the future.
"The clinical workshops, such as the three-day intensive clinical at Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi, are invaluable to our students. It allows them to experience things not normally seen in Laredo, and it expands their clinical experience," said Baker.
She said that, for those who want to go to nursing school, there are often more opportunities than people realize.
"The partnerships we have with the Laredo hospitals are exceptionally important," said Baker, "There are financial aid opportunities even for those who don't think they qualify for aid. Sometimes there are strings attached, like working in the hospital after one graduates, but it enables many more people to pursue their dreams."
She said that the Nursing Reinvestment Act, signed by President Bush in August 2002, will hopefully give students interested in nursing some new opportunities.
"In addition to direct aid to the students, the Act supports faculty study for those wanting to seek advanced degrees. These opportunities will further raise the already high quality of the TAMIU nursing school," said Baker.
In January, the U.S. Senate approved $20 million in new federal funds to support the provisions of the Act, but the House still needs to approve the spending.
For more information about the Canseco School of Nursing, please contact Dr. Susan Baker at 326.2450, visit offices in Canseco Hall, room 315 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. University office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.