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Nursing Instructors

History

In 1873, the first school of nursing in the United States was founded in Boston. In 1938, New York state passed the first law requiring that practical nurses be licensed. Even though the first school for training practical nurses had started almost 75 years before, and the establishment of other schools followed, the training programs lacked uniformity.

Shortly after licensure requirements surfaced, a movement toward organized training programs began that would help to ensure quality standards in the field. The role and training of the nurse have undergone radical changes since the first nursing schools were opened.

Education standards for nurses have been improving constantly since that time. Nurses are now required by all states to be appropriately educated and licensed to practice. Extended programs of training are offered throughout the country. The field of nursing serves an important role as a part of the health care system.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the field of nursing is the nation's largest health care profession, and nursing students account for more than half of all health profession students in the United States.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports there are approximately 2.8 million registered nurses (RNs) nationwide. This workforce, however, is aging, and the department notes that thousands of RNs will be needed through the first decade of the 21st century simply to replace those nurses who leave the profession. Despite this expected shortage, the AACN notes that roughly 800,000 nursing positions will be unfilled through 2020. Several factors are contributing to low enrollment numbers. Bachelor's degree nursing programs have had difficulty in attracting qualified faculty. Budgetary limitations, competition with clinical service agencies, and lack of qualified nursing instructors have reduced the number of quality instructors. A lack of classroom space and clinical training sites, also highly sought after due to the emphasis on community-based services, also limit the number of nursing educators.