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Nursing schools form coalition to attract students in Minnesota

Critical nurse shortage could leave Minnesota hospitals understaffed
Critical nurse shortage could leave Minnesota hospitals understaffed 01:55

by WCCO-TV's Beret Leone

MINNEAPOLIS – A critical shortage of nurses could soon leave Minnesota hospitals understaffed.

"I know a lot of units are really affected by staffing," University of Minnesota R.N., Kristine Bushey said. "We are in the ICU as well."

Industry leaders say it's hard to pinpoint a cause to the dire shortages.

"Because of the pandemic, the shortage has grown, but this shortage has been going on for years," Senior System Director of Nursing Excellence for Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota, Jennifer Eccles said. 

"Our nursing profession is changing out there. From being mostly full-time professionals, to part-time and people retiring. Which means we need to graduate even more nurses," she said.

Right now, based on pre-pandemic predictions, Minnesota needs 23,000 new registered nurses and 5,600 new licensed practical nurses by 2025. Despite the drastic need – applications to some of the state's nursing programs have been declining and some schools, particularly in greater Minnesota, are limiting enrollment simply because they don't have enough staff to teach.

To address the issue, University of Minnesota and Minnesota schools are coming together to work with every school of nursing in the state – both public and private. It's called the "Coalition for Nursing Equity and Excellence" or CNEE. The coalition is co-led by Eccles and the dean of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, Connie White Delaney.

"We need to reimagine nursing education, because we need more nursing facility and we need to take in students that maybe we've never taken in before," Eccles said. "And with that, we need to put in student support systems, so our students are successful. We need to meet the need of students where they're at."

Eccles believes this is a step in the right direction and hopes the coalition can help a critical career, at a critical point.

"Let's get everyone to the table and see if we can figure out some solutions to the current problem we're in," she said.

Students currently training to be in the nursing field, agree.

"The more nursing educators we can have, the more students we can get through the programs, and we can get to working," Century College nursing student Shannon Bierdeman said.

CNEE also plans to focus on inequities in the nursing career field. According to the Minnesota Board of Nursing, Minnesota has 13.5% non-white RNs and 15.7% non-white LPNs, compared to the general populations which sits at about 21.8% non-white, according to data from the 2019 census.

"Our goal with this is to meet the needs of the nursing workforce here in Minnesota," Eccles said. "To make sure we have enough nurses in Minnesota and that the diversity of nurses that we need, meet the mosaic needs of our diverse population here."

Minnesota State includes 26 community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving about 300,000 students. The University of Minnesota System has campuses Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester, and the Twin Cities

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