Skip to main content

Data Spotlight: Update on Nurse Faculty Vacancies

Published February 09, 2022

For over 20 years, AACN has conducted an annual survey to assess nursing faculty shortages in the United States. After a decline in 2019 and 2020, the U.S nursing faculty vacancy rate has increased according to results from the 2021 survey. In 2021, 8 percent of full-time faculty positions were vacant in U.S nursing schools (Figure 1). Although the number of vacancies has increased from 1,088 in 2011 to 1,985 in 2021, today’s overall faculty vacancy rate is consistent with the 2011 rate.

Taking a closer look at the 2021 survey, we do see that faculty vacancy rates vary by region. Figures 2 and 3 reveal that the West had the highest faculty vacancy rate (9 percent) and the highest percentage of schools reporting vacancies (73.1 percent). In the faculty vacancy survey, schools also report on the need for additional faculty, even if all budgeted positions are filled. The North Atlantic had the highest percentage of schools reporting no vacancies, but additional faculty are needed, while also having the second highest percentage of schools reporting vacancies (Figure 3). In 2021, the North Atlantic had an average of 3.11 additional faculty needed per school, the highest average of the regions (Figure 4). The average number of additional faculty needed was 2.67 per school in the West and 2.33 per school in the South. Figures 2 and 4 show the Midwest had the lowest faculty vacancy rate (7 percent) and the lowest average number of additional faculty needed (1.86 per school).

Figure 1. U.S Nursing Faculty Vacancy Rates, 2011-2021

Line Graph - U.S. Nursing Faculty Vacancy Rates, 2011-2021: 2011 - 7.7% n=1,088; 2012 - 7.6% n=1,181; 2013 - 8.3% n=1,358; 2014 - 6.9 n=1,236; 2015 - 7.1% n=1,328; 2016 - 7.9% n= 1,567; 2017 - 7.3% n= 1,565; 2018 - 7.9% n=1,715; 2019 - 7.2% n=1,637; 2020 - 6.5% n=1,492; 2021 - 8% n=1,965

Figure 2. 2021 U.S Map of Faculty Vacancy Rates

Line drawing of the U.S. Map of Faculty Vacancy Rates - West 9%, Midwest 7%, South 8.1%, North Atlantic 8.3%

Figure 3. 2021 Nursing Schools with Faculty Needs, By Region

2021 Nursing Schools with Faculty Needs - Bar Graph - Percentage of Schools Reporting Vacancies vs Percentage of Schools that Need Additional Faculty But no Vacancies - West 73.1% n=98 vs 25% n=9%; North Atlantic 63.6% n=126 vs 38.9% n=28; South 62.6% n=209 vs 36.8%. n=46; Midwest 53.2% n=143 vs 27.8% n=35

Figure 4. 2021 Mean Number of Additional Faculty Needed, By Region

Bar Graph - 2021 Mean Number of Additional Faculty Needed, by Region - North Atlantic 3.11; West 2.67; South 2.33; Midwest 1.86