Thousands of qualified nursing school applicants are unable to get into CT programs

Connecticut colleges and universities are expanding their nursing program capacity. Albertus Magnus College and Eastern Connecticut State University will launch bachelor's degree programs in nursing in fall 2024. And the UConn School of Nursing will open expanded facilities in 2026 to accommodate more students.

Nevertheless, it is only a drop in the ocean.

More than 8,000 qualified applicants were rejected by nursing programs across the state, according to the latest data from the Connecticut Center for Nursing Workforce.

“In my personal experience, there aren't many schools here in Connecticut that have the capacity to accept a lot of students,” said Oshane Moxam, a former correctional officer who is pursuing his dream of becoming a nurse at the new East Hartford branch of the Arizona School of Nursing. “And even if you have the best grades possible and everything, it can still be pretty difficult to get into a nursing program.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals have been overwhelmed when it comes to offering nursing students clinical internships, which are a requirement for licensure and graduation, according to nursing school deans.

“They're barely able to juggle everything that's going on in their own community,” says Vincent Salyers, dean of nursing at the Arizona College of Nursing's new East Hartford location. “And now you have nursing students, then medical students and social work students. Many of us want these internships at the same time, and that's a challenge.”

Slayers said more and more schools, like his, are supplementing in-person clinical requirements with training in simulation labs.

“Training programs across the country are currently exploring how we can innovate to train our students without requiring them to gain all of their clinical experience in inpatient, hospital or nursing settings,” he said.

In the school's simulation lab, students work with suction canisters, oxygen flow meters, EKG monitors – “basically everything you see in patient care in a hospital room, right down to the board here that has the patient's name and the doctor, what's wrong with them, whether they're in pain, their treatment plan and all those things,” Slayers said.

“We develop the skills and knowledge in simulated learning environments so that when students go into healthcare, they are equipped with the knowledge, skills and abilities to provide practical care,” he said.

Tina Loarte-Rodriguez, executive director of the Connecticut Center for Nursing Workforce, said faculty at nursing programs across the state are in discussions about partnering with health care organizations for clinical internships.

Anna Harden

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