We are in the middle of an acute health care crisis in America today. We have a critical nursing shortage in all areas of healthcare. The situation is going to get worse, as nurses are retiring faster than new graduates enter the profession. As fewer nurses take care of more patients, patient outcomes will get worse. It has been demonstrated over and over that patient morbidity and mortality rates are directly correlated with patient/nurse ratios.
I’ve been around the block a few times, and this is the fourth or fifth nursing shortage I’ve lived through. This one is different, though. In the past, nursing shortages were resolved by admitting more qualified applicants to nursing schools, thus graduating more nurses. That’s not possible this time, however, because nursing schools are already maxed out. There are not enough master’s prepared nursing instructors available to admit more students.
Of course, the nursing faculty shortage has to be addressed, but there are also other ways we might be able to bring more people into nursing as a career. There are a couple of ways we could fill in some of the lower rungs on nursling’s career ladder that would attract mature, motivated individuals into nursing. One option would be to offer LPN nursing degrees online.
Online educational opportunities for nurses mostly start at the “RN to BSN” level, which means that an RN with a two-year nursing degree can usually get a BSN online. That’s the point at which the clinical-to-classroom course time ratio first makes it practical to offer online studies. It’s also the point at which students can legally practice independently, so that clinical experiences can be arranged where the student lives.
Offering LPN nursing degrees online
This would be possible if we could solve the problem with clinical class time and supervision. This isn’t such a huge hurdle, though, because nurses with BSN’s could be hired as adjunct clinical instructors. BSN-prepared RN’s are available in most areas. Academic coursework could then be taken online and the clinical component arranged where the student lives.
It is not possible for practical nursing training to be completely online because nursing requires touching and smelling, interviewing and listening. Some experiences cannot be simulated well enough to adequately prepare the student for the job. However, LPN nursing degrees online could be designed using adjunct faculty for the clinical part of the course.
Skilled, well-trained LPN’s added to the nursing workforce would go a long way toward alleviating today’s nursing shortage. Offering LPN Nursing degrees online is one option to making that happen.