A preliminary report from the National League for Nursing (NLN) shows an increase in the number of RN nursing program admissions, enrollments, and graduations during academic year 2002-2003, according to a Dec 13, 2003, news release from NLN. Graduations increased 6% over the previous year, which means that 73,000 new RNs potentially could enter the workforce if they all passed their licensure examinations.

The report’s projections are based on data analyzed by December 2003–about 30% of data potentially available–from the 3,017 nursing programs in the United States and its territories. The preliminary results compare the 2002-2003 growth rates to those of the previous year in number of admissions, enrollments, and graduations in diploma and associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs. Admission for all three types of programs increased approximately 6%. Enrollments in diploma and associate’s degree programs increased by 5%, white enrollments in bachelor’s degree programs increased by 21%.

Despite these projections, the shortage of nurses and nurse educators remains critical. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations reports that more than 126,000 nursing positions in hospitals are not filled.

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