Top Tennessee Nursing Schools, Colleges & Degree Programs
For a while, mainly during the height of the economic crisis, it seemed as if the nursing shortage problem in Tennessee had been averted. However, now that the crisis is over and all those that continued to work due to the job security are deciding to retire, the shortage is becoming very real. Indeed, they are now back at the pre-recession levels and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics warns that the shortage is only set to worsen.
In response, various projects are taking place to ensure a new, high quality nursing workforce is in place in the state. Unfortunately, although there are 25 schools in the state accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, some 1,916 qualified students could not be accommodated by the nursing schools. For those who weren’t turned away, the waiting lists can be long.
This is caused mainly due to the fact that very few nurse educators currently work in Tennessee and those who do work there are approaching retirement age. A Nurse Educator must be an Advanced Practice Nurse holding at least a master’s degree and only 10.8% of the workforce actually hold a master’s degree. On the other hand, this is higher than many other states, which does show that Tennessee’s efforts to address the workforce shortage are paying off.
Just as in the rest of the country, Tennessee is facing the same problems. The population of the state is both aging and growing, which means the health needs of the population are becoming increasingly complex, particularly due to the added pressures of obesity and diabetes. Furthermore, there are 103 medically underserved areas in the state, affecting 74.72% of the population.
The average salary for a registered nurse in Tennessee is $62,000. This is slightly lower than the national average. However, there is tremendous variation in actual salaries depending on where the nurses are employed and how much experience and education they have. Additionally, over the past year, there has been significant growth in the average salary. Although it is still below what it was at its height in July 2012, it is growing rapidly and once again edging towards those levels. The best paid nurses are the Clinical Nurse Managers and the lowest paid are the Psychiatric Nurses and Oncology Outpatient Nurses. However, this too is set to change as care in the community is becoming more prevalent, with hospitals trying to keep beds empty.