Nursing students look elsewhere due to 2-year wait

The UAA nursing program is so popular that there is a two-year waiting period for students who wish to enroll. And as a result, many students are beginning to complain and look elsewhere for a nursing education.

John Mun, an adviser for the school, said the department is getting an average of 200 applicants every semester, but with a program capacity of only 40 students, the remaining students are forced to wait until seats open up.

“I’m applying in the fall and when my adviser told me it was going to be a two-year wait, I began to look elsewhere,” said junior Katrina Van Dyck. “The University of Tampa told me that if my application is in by October, they could get me in much sooner _” as early as January.”

Mun said the program offers two varieties of degrees to students looking to become nurses. There is an associate degree, which has a very competitive admissions process. Admission is determined by a point system to determine how qualified an applicant is, and the points are primarily based on previous nursing experience and grades in required courses.

For the bachelor’s degree program, admission is based only on the completion of certain courses with a minimum GPA of 2.7, after which all qualified applicants are placed onto a waiting list in order of class standing to determine who has seniority on the list. That’s where the backlog has turned up.

Even some students who have already been admitted into the program expressed doubt about whether they would have been willing to wait the two years to get there.

“I probably would have thought through whether I really want to do it, and I definitely would have looked at other schools,” said Rachel Lenan, a junior in the program.

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But not all students think the wait is unreasonable.

“A lot of the reason for the wait in the nursing program is that there aren’t enough hospitals for us to do shadows,” Holly Thompson said. “We need more funding for preceptors, they can’t have all of us just wandering around the hospitals, without a nurse who is responsible for us. If the program receives more funding, they would love to take more students, because I know the waiting list is pretty ridiculous right now.”

Autumn Hollingsworth decided the bachelor’s program was too long of a wait, and instead opted for the more competitive associate’s degree.

“Even if I was ranked at the very top, the soonest I would get in was two years,” Hollingsworth said. “I would be finished with the associate’s by the time I started the bachelors _” there’s no way I would have waited around for two years just to get into nursing school. Its kind of bad that I’m getting an associate’s degree, but I have to go to school for four years to get it. I will have the same job title as other nurses but won’t be able to work in management positions.”

Tory Volden, a nursing department adviser, said that with an average wait of two years, many students either stop taking classes to begin working full time or attempt to get a minor to finish.

“I don’t know exactly what is going to happen,” Volden said. “Our administration is certainly aware of it, but the problem just hasn’t shrunk or grown very much.”