Keeping Nursing Programs up and Running Amidst Budget and Faculty Shortages

budget cuts nurseDeans of nursing programs such as nursing informatics in different places all have the same response as to what do they consider as a major problem. They expressed that they have always been concerned with budget cuts and shortages in teaching staff. Although this has been a known problem, few writings have been published regarding as to how the leaders of the academe deal with it. Nursing deans use three strategies in dealing with these challenges.

Home Hospital Program

The nursing program requires that the students be deployed in the hospital setting on the latter years of their program. They would be required to rotate to different departments to be able to gather experiences and practice the necessary skills for the field.

With the home hospital program, the students are deployed within the same hospital for the whole of their clinical training instead of rotating to different institutions. This practice lessens the time needed for training and since the nursing students would be working in the same hospital over several semesters, their increasing familiarity of the premises through time would be a great advantage. There is also a high probability that the students would be interested in pursuing their career in the same hospital.

The home hospital program provides 16.5 credits of clinical experience each semester for three semesters. This amount of credits is equivalent to what hiring 2 additional faculty staff can provide. With the program fully operational, however, the costs are actually lesser than having to provide the salaries of the 2 additional instructors.

Collaborative On-line Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

Nevada has two public universities, one is in Las Vegas and the other is in Reno. Both universities have proposed to start a DNP program. However, the population is too small to accommodate two competing programs, making the proposition rather financially impossible.

It was therefore suggested that the two universities share an online collaborative program where the two institutions teach the same set of students enrolled. The tuition fee would go to the school where the instructor handling the course resides. This way, the salaries of the teaching staff is maintained.

This strategy is similar to exchange programs started by some western institutions. The difference, however, is that with this model, the tuition is not split between the partnering schools. The whole fee for the course is given to the institution which offers it. Therefore, both schools are assured that they are receiving their fair share.

Since the DNP is a self-sustaining program, it does not rely on state funds and is not affected by budget cuts. It is also advantageous since it effectively reduces the workload of the faculty by decreasing the number of courses the staff must teach.

Differential Fees

In Nevada, the tuition fee paid by the students goes directly to the state. The latter then allocates the funds to the respective universities. The funding that each institution would get depends on an outdated formula which includes student enrollment. This has been working well, until the state has reduced the allotted funds for the schools. This has created a financial crisis for the universities leaving them in a dilemma whether to remove the high-cost programs such as nursing and nurse informatics to compensate for the budget cut. This, however, is inappropriate since the nursing program is much needed to meet the demands of the industry for nursing graduates.

The only way that the programs would be able to continue is to impose differential fees or extra charges within the university. The added fees, although amounting to double the previous tuition of students, is still observed to be half to what the private schools are charging.

Although the additional charges were originally proposed to sustain the high-cost programs, not all of it goes solely to these courses. Approximately half of the extra funds are also used to support other educational programs. Still some of it is also used to hire extra personnel to develop other courses.

The sustainability of the nursing program largely depends on the critical budget planning and allocation of the institution. The nursing education and its success rely on continuous collaborative efforts for the enhancement and the development of the program.

Share this: