Baltimore, Md. – The University of Maryland School of Nursing has reported a 37 percent increase in undergraduate applications for Fall 2001 admissions. The increase is significant in light of the severe national and statewide nursing shortage and statistics that indicate fewer students are choosing nursing as a career.
For every eight nurses retiring, only three new graduates are entering the field, according to Dr. Georges Benjamin, secretary of the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. And in 2000, for the sixth consecutive year, enrollment of nursing students in undergraduate programs continued to decline, according to a survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
"We believe this increase in applicants is an indicator that our recruitment methods are affecting some change in the marketplace," said Barbara R. Heller, EdD, RN, FAAN, Dean of the University of Maryland School of Nursing.
This year, the School of Nursing implemented an aggressive plan to correct misperceptions about nursing and attack barriers that may prevent students from choosing nursing as a career. The School partnered with members of the health care industry and other educational institutions, and it procured a gift worth $1.2 million in services from Gilden Integrated - a marketing communications agency dedicated to the technology sector - to help attract more students to nursing.
So far, the School has increased scholarship funding through additional gifts, partnerships with the health care industry, and expanded access to courses in off-campus locations in Cambridge, Cumberland, Easton, Hagerstown, Shady Grove, and Waldorf. The School also offers distance learning and on-line learning options. In addition, the School has increased evening, weekend, and summer course options. And, this past year, the School conducted extensive market research to determine students' attitudes about nursing as a career. That led to a targeted marketing and public relations campaign to challenge common stereotypes.
The University of Maryland marketing research indicated that high school and college students were unaware of the diversity of career options within nursing and the opportunity for salary potential depending on education, experience, and career development. The campaign emphasizes the fact that nursing is an exciting, challenging, and independent profession.
"We believe the increase in applications this year shows that we are on the right track to attracting more nursing students," said Dr. Heller.