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GROWTH CHART

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Connell School enjoys lean times

Reflecting a nationwide surge of interest in the nursing profession, undergraduate applications to Boston College's Connell School of Nursing increased by 52 percent this year, following a 42 percent increase the year before. The graduate nursing program's position in the US News & World Report graduate school rankings, meanwhile, jumped more than 10 places, into the top 20.

Several factors help to explain the nursing program's growing attraction, according to CSON dean Barbara Hazard Munro. One is the continuing availability of decent paying jobs in the field, in an otherwise faltering job market. Nurses "can go almost anyplace they want—literally in the world—and not only find a job, but one with working hours that suit them," says Munro. Moreover, nursing is recovering from a slump of its own, a period of low interest in the 1980s and 1990s, during which some colleges and universities cut back on their nursing programs. With those ebb years now past, the remaining schools are working hard to pick up the slack, says Munro.

The number of students enrolling in nursing programs nationwide rose 8 percent last year, according to a report by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. But that means "we're only getting back to where we were eight or 10 years ago," says Munro. She warns that the national shortage of nurses is projected to become more serious over the next decade, and that meeting the demand for new nurses will not be easy. In most nursing schools, additional faculty and clinical placement slots will be needed to cover any significant increases in enrollment.

Meanwhile at BC, competition was intense this year for admission to the Connell School's 12-month alternative nursing education program, which prepares college graduates for the nursing licensing exam. There were 200 applications for the program's 32 slots.

At the graduate level, US News & World Report rated CSON 19th among all master's degree nursing programs in the country, tied with six other institutions. Munro cites the Connell School's access to Boston's abundant teaching hospitals and notes that the institutions ranked ahead of CSON are all attached to academic medical centers. Yale University (tied for 10th) is the only other New England institution in the US News survey.

Reid Oslin

 

Reid Oslin is the senior media relations officer in BC's Office of Public Affairs.

 

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