As the demand for nurses grows across Wisconsin, nursing education programs are struggling to churn out enough graduates — but not for lack of applicants. Instead, schools are facing dwindling numbers of faculty and limited classroom space, forcing them to turn away prospective students.

According to the 2022 Wisconsin Hospital Association report, the pandemic exacerbated a growing shortage of nurses. In 2016, about 6 percent of registered nurse positions and around 9 percent of certified nursing assistant positions were vacant. Preliminary data estimates that in 2021, roughly 11 percent of RN positions and 17 percent of CNA positions were unfilled.

“There’s just no way we’re ever going to really get out of the shortage. Most of the nursing programs in the state, including (Edgewood College), have increased their enrollment as much as they can. But without faculty and sites and classrooms, we’re really limited on how much we can admit,” said Margaret Noreuil, the dean of Edgewood College’s school of nursing in Madison.

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