Politics, Economics, and Nursing Shortages: A Critical Look at United States Government Policies

Rob Elgie, BSN, RN, BC


Nurs Econ. 2007;25(5):285-292. 

In This Article

Nursing Instructor Supply Subsidies

Since there are waiting lists to enter nursing programs (nationally more than 32,000 candidates were waiting to enter baccalaureate programs alone in 2005 [AACN, 2006]), nursing education subsidies only serve to reduce the cost of education for students who are already in or waiting to enter nursing programs. The supply of nurse educators, however, directly affects waiting lists and capacity to supply nurses.

In the state of New Mexico, for example, the New Mexico Center for Nursing Excellence (NMCNE, 2007) considers the lack of nursing faculty to be one of the largest constraints to increasing the capacity to graduate nurses. According to the NMCNE, "nursing faculty sal aries continue to be a constraint in recruiting and retaining nursing faculty. In an informal survey of schools of nursing, (it was) reported that faculty with master's de grees earn approximately $10,000 less than nurses with master's degrees practicing in their communities" (p. 4).

Policies aimed at increasing the number of new graduate nurses must first remedy the nurse in structor shortage. Nursing faculty education subsidies reduce the cost of supplying nursing program faculty, but they do not improve compensation. In fact, as with the nursing workforce in general, reducing the cost of supplying faculty re duces the price of nursing program faculty – in other words, reduces compensation. Subsidies lead to shortages that lead to more subsidies, thereby perpetuating economic conditions that caused the shortages in the first place.


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