Lack of Faculty Worsens Nursing Shortage

By Hetty Chang
|  Monday, Dec 2, 2013  |  Updated 8:26 PM PDT
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Despite a nursing shortage across California, prospective nursing students are turned away from at least one California State University school due to a lack of faculty. Hetty Chang reports from Long Beach for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, 2013.

Hetty Chang

Despite a nursing shortage across California, prospective nursing students are turned away from at least one California State University school due to a lack of faculty. Hetty Chang reports from Long Beach for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, 2013.

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A lack of nursing faculty at some colleges and universities could bring the nationwide nursing shortage that began nearly a decade ago to one of its worst levels in years, according to health care experts.

There are 25 full-time faculty and approximately 60 part-time instructors teaching 1,017 nursing students at California State University Long Beach.

There are only three classrooms to accommodate the entire school of nursing, said Dr. Lucy Huckabay, the director of CSULB's school of nursing.

"The overall number of nurses that will be needed, 1.2 (million) is a horrendous to absorb," she said of the number of nurses that need to be added by 2020 to fill new and vacant nursing positions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Considering, we don't have nursing faculty."

"Per year, we turn away, between fall and spring semester, over 1,200 students," she said.

Nursing is one of the most high-demand occupations in the nation. Many like, Jeffrey Yi, a CSULB nursing student, will graduate with a job waiting for them.

"That's one of the most gut-wrenching things, looking for a job," Yi said. "And here I am being able to secure a job as a registered nurse right out of -- before I graduate actually. That's unheard of with a lot of other professions."

Yi is not alone. According to school officials, of the more than 1000 nursing students at Cal State Long Beach, approximately 70 percent will have a job upon graduating, and 20 to 25 percent will have a job within six months of graduating.

And still, the number of nurses entering the workforce will not be anywhere near enough. As the Affordable Care Act rolls out, the nursing shortage across the state is likely to become even more dire.

That is exactly why CSULB has a 10-year partnership with Long Beach Memorial Hospital.

"They were paying for us to hire faculty and to increase the number of students," Huckabay said. "We admit 50 students per semester and they will hire all 50 of them upon graduation."

Partnerships like this may help with the shortage and competitive salaries may help lure more nursing faculty, she said.

"A doctorate-prepared faculty makes $78,000 a year, whereas a doctorate-prepared hired by the hospital will get a minimum of $125 (thousand)."

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