For the fifth year in a row, the University of Arizona College of Nursing has received the Nurse Faculty Loan Program, or NFLP, grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration. This year’s award totals $1.4 million.
The Nurse Faculty Loan Program was created by the Health Resources and Services Administration to help alleviate the severe nursing faculty shortage that impacts many of the nation's nursing schools. The NFLP provides funding to nursing schools to increase the number of qualified nursing faculty.
Doctoral nursing students who are preparing to take faculty roles upon graduation may apply for NFLP loans for as much as $35,500 per academic year for as long as five years. After completion of their doctoral degree, NFLP students will have 85 percent of the loan forgiven by assuming faculty roles and meeting the requirements of the NFLP program.
“With the nursing shortage, the aging nursing faculty workforce, as well as the aging U.S. population, this grant is extremely beneficial in reducing the faculty shortage that we are currently encountering,” said Sally Reel, associate dean for academic practice and project director for the NFLP.
Jason T. Shuffitt is a faculty member at the college who utilized the program while studying for his doctor of nursing practice degree. “I tell all of my students about the program, whether they are looking to be clinicians or researchers. It is a win-win,” Shuffitt said. He entered the NFLP with the intention of teaching afterward, but he has seen many individuals who have transitioned from practicing into the academic role.
Nursing schools across the country turn away many students, simply because there are not enough faculty members to accommodate all of the student applicants. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing "...thousands of qualified applicants are being turned away from four-year colleges and universities. In 2010, 67,563 qualified applications were not accepted at schools of nursing due primarily to a shortage of faculty and resource constraints."
Nursing faculty members are rapidly aging, compounding the faculty shortage with the average age of doctorally prepared professors being 60.5 years and 51.5 years for assistant professors. Currently, faculty positions are available across the nation, but doctorally prepared faculty members are difficult to find, as only 46.5 percent of nursing school faculty are doctorally prepared.
“By providing the NFLP, we are becoming part of the solution to this problem,” Reel said.
Faculty at the UA College of Nursing envision, engage and innovate in education, research and practice to help people of all ages optimize health in the context of major life transitions, illnesses, injuries, symptoms and disabilities. Established in 1957, the college ranks among the top nursing programs in the U.S.