Maryland nursing schools boost enrollment to address future shortages

Over the summer, Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland opened up its new, cutting-edge Health and Life Sciences building. It will allow professors to boost enrollment and train more nurses.

A statewide nursing shortage is threatening lifesaving care as hospital staff struggle to meet the demand brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anne Arundel Community College’s Assistant Dean of Nursing Scott Olden said the expanded program will address the current and future nursing shortages.

“That is primarily why we did it,” he said.

The program is also partnering with hospitals to hire early. Olden said it was a challenge because the two-year program can’t condense and fast-track its curriculum and training like four-year universities can.

But, there was another path to get students hired by hospitals.

“We said, ‘Accept our nurses early and then move them over in the second year to a student nurse,’” he said.

Olden said hospitals took to the idea because they can train students in their methods of care and students get hands-on experience under the direction of a seasoned nurse.

At the University of Maryland’s nursing schools in Baltimore and Shady Grove, students are graduating early next month to meet the demand for nurses, said Program Director Dr. Jana Goodwin.

More than 160 students will enter hospitals right away, she said.

And, the program at Shady Grove is increasing enrollment from 88 to 100 students every semester.

She said some students are nervous about the career’s health risks, but they continue to see applications increase.

“When we read the students’ applications, this is something that they’ve always wanted to do,” Goodwin said. “Is there increased nervousness around that? Sure. But the feeling of being compelled to do something remains.”

Gigi Barnett

Gigi Barnett is an anchor at WTOP. She has worked in the media for more than 20 years. Before joining WTOP, she was an anchor at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas, and a staff reporter at The Miami Herald. She’s a Navy wife and mom of three.

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