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Arkansas nursing schools feeling impact of instructor shortage

Some nursing programs are seeing less people on staff to help instruct America's future healthcare workers.

ARKANSAS, USA — Just like any classroom, one of the most important aspects of a learning environment is the one who is teaching.

But, some nursing programs are seeing less people on staff to help instruct America's future healthcare workers.

It can be added to the list of shortages the healthcare field has experienced since the beginning of the pandemic. 

"Nursing salaries in the hospitals have increased a lot, so it's much harder to attract people that are working in the hospitals," said Leonie DeClerk, Director of the College of Nursing at UAMS.

Right now, she has seven open positions.

Nursing programs are not just looking for students to fill classrooms seats, but also instructors who are qualified to teach.

In the past year, she said UAMS has opened an accelerated Bachelor of Science nursing program. But, challenges lie ahead due to the lack of staffing.

"We've also lost some staff for various reasons over the last year or so, and it's been difficult to replace them," DeClerk said.

In December, she is also expecting three more faculty members to leave and they will be looking for qualified applicants to fill their spots.

One of the primary reasons why people are leaving their nursing instructor jobs is because hospitals are paying more for clinical nurses.

"Nursing instructors and educational faculty are the fourth lowest paid,"DeClerk said. 

At the University of Central Arkansas, while the shortage is not as dire as UAMS, Susan Gatto, Director of Nursing, said she recently lost a staff member from her department because of the competitive salaries that nurses in hospitals are now being offered.

"The reason why I lost that faculty member is because she returned to clinical practice where she could make about $30-$50,000 more a year," Gatto said.

As the nursing programs face this instructor shortage, they are coming up with ways to try and make the job more appealing to future teachers. 

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