Efforts to turn around a nationwide nursing shortage are failing, but not because of a shortage of people who want to become nurses. University of Iowa College of Nursing Dean Rita Frantz says the U-of-I can admit 90 applicants into its nursing program each year. About 300 people apply.

Frantz says she’d like to admit more students, but the school has a severe shortage of nursing faculty – mostly because of money. She says nurses can make up to $40,000 more per year working at a hospital than they would teaching.

“That’s significant. That’s not just a few thousand dollars,” Frantz said. Finding more money to fill the faculty gaps isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. Meghan Hammen, a U-of-I nursing school graduate, says a lot of potential nurses are frustrated with the situation.

“I’ve heard of a lot of people who’ve tried to get in (to the nursing program) and if they don’t after a couple of tries, then they move on to another degree and pursue another profession just because they can’t get in,” Hammen said. If the nursing shortage problem isn’t fixed, some fear patients could receive care from non-licensed caregivers.

“Patient care will definitely suffer. Health care in general will suffer,” Hammen said. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing projects that within the next 15 years, the shortage of registered nurses in the U.S. is expected to reach more than a quarter of a million.

By Jamie Brinton, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids