Rounds with Leadership: A Time to Celebrate

May is the month we celebrate nurses. Though National Nurses Week is officially May 6-12, in recent years we have seen a shift to a month-long recognition of nurses and the contributions they make to quality care. As the nation’s largest group of healthcare professionals, nurses spend the most time engaging directly with patients and have earned the trust and esteem of the people we serve. This alone is worth celebrating!

For those actively engaged in academic nursing, AACN salutes the groundbreaking work underway at member schools to transform nursing education. Faculty from coast to coast are striving to prepare more practice-ready nurses, advance new models of care, shape health policy, connect practice with education, and lead scholarly pursuits that improve health and health care. Their efforts are helping to accelerate the drive toward health equity and increase access to quality care.

Looking at some recent trends in nursing education, we note several milestones worthy of applause. AACN recently released data from our annual survey of baccalaureate and graduate programs, and we were pleased to see that enrollment in entry-level baccalaureate programs is holding steady and that the population of Doctor of Nursing Practice students has increased for the 20th consecutive year. Though we continue to struggle with sustaining enrollment in RN to BSN, master’s, and PhD programs, we are encouraged to see an increasingly diverse student population with nearly 40% representation from individuals from underrepresented groups across all nursing program levels.

In addition, we are seeing some welcome trends when we look at AACN’s latest data on nursing faculty and deans/directors. With salary increases found across all ranks, the average faculty age is declining and for the first time, more than 60% of full-time faculty in member schools hold doctoral degrees. When we look at top academic leaders, we are seeing a younger population of deans/directors (average age is 57.5 years) and a nearly 10-point increase in the percentage of deans/directors from underrepresented groups since 2014.  

Further, data from HRSA’s National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses reveal a workforce that is increasingly well-educated and diverse. When the highest level of education among those in the nursing workforce is considered, fully 69% of RNs are prepared at the baccalaureate and higher level, including 2% with doctoral degrees. In addition, more men are now working in nursing, wages are up, and the RN workforce is getting younger. Though numbers vary by employment setting and role, 4 out of 5 RNs report overall job satisfaction, which is great news given concerns about nurse retention and the need to attract more prospective students into nursing careers.

With much to celebrate, AACN is commemorating National Nurses Month in several ways, including:

  • Opening the call for nominations for the Faculty Scholars Grant, which provides two $25,000 awards to faculty working to integrate innovation into nursing education. 
  • Spotlighting program announcements, events, and faculty opportunities from nearly 50 member schools in a special supplement to our Syllabus newsletter coming May 6.
  • Offering a complimentary email advertisement in the AACN Career Center's monthly newsletter to schools looking to promote their faculty vacancy announcements.
  • Soliciting nominations for awards programs focused on nursing schools, faculty, students, and partnerships, which provide an ideal way to spotlight top performers and innovations before a national audience.

Please take some time this month to celebrate and reflect on the immense impact you are making to improve health and health care as a nurse leader and champion.  In the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”