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Thousands of qualified nursing school applicants can’t get into programs in CT

FILE: Since the COVID pandemic, nursing school deans say hospitals are stretched beyond capacity to provide clinical placements for nursing students, which is a requirement for accreditation and graduation.
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
FILE: Since the COVID pandemic, nursing school deans say hospitals are stretched beyond capacity to provide clinical placements for nursing students, which is a requirement for accreditation and graduation.

Connecticut colleges and universities are expanding their capacity to admit students into nursing degree programs. Albertus Magnus College and Eastern Connecticut State University are set to launch bachelor’s degrees in nursing in the fall of 2024. And UConn School of Nursing will open an expanded space in 2026 to accommodate more students.

Still, it’s a drop in the bucket.

More than 8,000 qualified applicants were rejected by nursing programs statewide, according to the most recent data from the Connecticut Center for Nursing Workforce.

“What I personally experienced here in Connecticut, I don't think there's a lot of schools that have the capacity to facilitate a lot of students,” said Oshane Moxam, a former correctional officer, who is pursuing his dream of becoming a nurse at the Arizona College of Nursing’s new East Hartford location. “Even when you have the best grades possible and everything, it still can be quite difficult to get into any nursing program.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing school deans say hospitals are stretched beyond capacity to provide clinical placements for nursing students, which is a requirement for accreditation and graduation.

“They're barely able to accommodate everything that's going on in their own environments," said Vincent Salyers, dean of nursing at the Arizona College of Nursing’s new location in East Hartford. "And now you add to that nursing students, then you add to that medical students, and you add to that social work students. It's a lot of us all at the same time wanting those placements and it's challenging.”

Salyers said more schools, including his, are augmenting the in-person clinical requirements with training in simulation labs.

“Education programs across the country have begun to look at, ‘How can we innovatively educate our students without having all of their clinical experiences inpatient, in hospitals, on nursing units?'” he said.

At the school’s simulation lab, students work with suction containers, oxygen flow meters, EKG monitors, “pretty much what you'd see in a patient care environment in a room in a hospital, even down to the board here that lays out the name of the patient, the doctor, what's going on with them, if they're having pain, their plan of care, all of that kind of thing,” Salyers said.

“We're developing the skills, developing the knowledge in simulated learning environments so that when the students go out into the health care systems, they're prepared with the knowledge, skills and abilities to provide care hands on,” he said.

Tina Loarte-Rodriguez, executive director of the Connecticut Center for Nursing Workforce, said faculty at nursing programs across the state are in talks to enter into partnerships with health care organizations for clinical placements.

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.
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