A wave of faculty retirements is expected across the U.S. over the next decade.
- According to AACN's report on 2021-2022 Salaries of Instructional and Administrative Nursing Faculty, the average ages of doctorally prepared nurse faculty holding the ranks of professor, associate professor, and assistant professor were 62.5, 56.7, and 50.6 years, respectively. For master's degree-prepared nurse faculty, the average ages for professors, associate professors, and assistant professors were 55.0, 54.7, and 48.6 years, respectively.
- According to an article published in Nursing Outlook on Retirements and Succession of Nursing Faculty in 2016-2025 by Drs. Di Fang and Karen Kesten, one third of the current nursing faculty workforce in baccalaureate and graduate programs are expected to retire by 2025. This finding underscores the urgency for the nursing education community to address the impending exodus of senior faculty and to develop younger faculty for succession.
Higher compensation in clinical and private-sector settings is luring current and potential nurse educators away from teaching.
According to the latest Nurse Salary Research Report issued by Nurse.com, the median salary across advanced practice registered nurse roles is $120,000. By contrast, AACN reported in March 2022 that the average salary for a master’s-prepared professors in schools of nursing is $87,325.
Master’s and doctoral programs in nursing are not producing a large enough pool of potential nurse educators to meet the demand.
In April 2022, AACN reported that for the first time since 2001, enrollment in master’s programs decreased by 3.8%, which translates to 5,766 fewer students enrolled in 2021 than in 2020. In addition, enrollment in PhD nursing programs were also down. Since PhD program enrollment began to dip in 2013, enrollment in these programs have decreased by 13%, from 5,145 students in 2013 to 4,476 students in 2021.
Further, efforts to expand the nurse educator population are frustrated by the fact that thousands of qualified applicants to graduate nursing programs are turned away each year. In 2021, AACN found that 9,574 qualified applicants were turned away from master's programs, and 5,169 qualified applicants were turned away from doctoral programs. The primary reasons for not accepting all qualified students were a shortage of faculty, preceptors, and clinical education sites.