Georgia colleges to consider on-line nursing doctorates

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011 7:14 AM
Last updated 7:16 AM
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ATLANTA - The University System of Georgia is using computers to address the state’s shortage of nurses.

The computers don’t replace the angels of mercy but instead provide a convenient way for veteran nurses to keep their jobs while they earn a doctorate degree needed to become college instructors.

One key factor in the nursing shortage is an instructor shortage, not a lack of students. Nursing schools across the state regularly turn away qualified students because they don’t have enough instructors, and simply adding more students to each class risks the accreditation that hinges on a maximum student-teacher ratio.

So, the University of West Georgia is asking the Board of Regents for permission to offer its doctorate in nursing education via the Internet. Georgia Southwestern State University wants to offer a masters in nursing education.

As nursing professors get older and retire, replacing them gets harder and harder, according to a memo explaining the universities’ request.

The number of nursing graduates from research-focused colleges in the South dropped more than 20 percent in the last school year, according to the memo from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

“As the professoriate continues to age, the lack of faculty with doctoral-level credentials will become critical to pipeline issues with projected retirements,” according to the memo.

Boosting nursing numbers is a priority for the regents. A task force spent months working on ideas, and one finding was that practicing nurses often can’t afford to leave work to return to graduate school in another city for a doctorate. The online course solves that problem.

The regent’s Committee on Academic Affairs will consider the request today.


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