California’s Nursing Schools Need to Up Enrollment by 60 percent to Avoid Shortage

As reported by ABC’s local Los Angeles affiliate, the main grievances of the nurses union were that LA County had violated a law requiring minimum nurse to patient ratios and failed to retain nurses. The inadequate staffing leading to these grievances might be attributed to a shortage of nurses, but apparently that is a controversial topic.

For example, why, if there is a nursing shortage, has the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) issued guidelines designed to limit the annual enrollment in approved schools of nursing? These guidelines stipulate that even within fully accredited nursing schools, prior BRN approval is required to increase or decrease the number of student enrollments, or make changes in enrollment cycles.

Apparently, not much approval is forthcoming. For example, according to the BRN’s own surveys over the five year period from 2014 through 2018, nursing programs in California turned away 62 percent of qualified applicants for lack of openings. The problem is so acute, that public nursing programs in California are actually admitting qualified applicants based on a lottery, instead of based on their academic achievement and other qualitative factors.

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