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Friday, August 3, 2012

Nursing shortage ahead...brace yourself!

Nursing Schools Brace For Faculty Shortage

Nursing students in a simulation lab at the University of Virginia School of Nursing.
Enlarge Elizabeth Lee Cantrell/UVA School of Nursing
  Nursing students in a simulation lab at the University of Virginia School of Nursing.

There have been lots of goodbye parties this year at the University of Virginia School of Nursing. So far, 11 professors have retired. That's one-fourth of the faculty, and Dean Dorrie Fontaine is in no mood to celebrate.

Over the next few years, the Affordable Care Act will probably boost demand for nurses to take care of the newly insured, she says, "and I need faculty to teach the practitioners that are going to take care of these uninsured."

In the last year, more than 76,000 qualified applicants were turned away, in large part because nursing schools didn't have enough professors. Polly Bednash, executive director of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, says nurses comprise the oldest workforce in the nation, and many of them kept working during the recession.

"They are going to leave in droves and are already leaving in some places where the economy is getting better," she says.
  Finding professors to teach new nurses will be difficult because faculty members usually need a Ph.D. Of 3 million nurses in this country, less than 1 percent have their doctorate. Emily Drake, an associate professor of nursing at UVA, says most nurses want to practice right away. "After you finish your degree," she says, "what we want to do is take care of patients."

Pay is also a problem. Nurses with a master's degree and special training can be certified as nurse practitioners — and be paid $120,000 a year or more. After 10 years as a professor, Drake earns about $75,000.

It's about more than the money, though. Fontaine says that by the time most nurses consider a Ph.D., their lives are complicated with a job, financial obligations and children.

She says diversity in the teacher population is missing, too.

"We want to have our faculty and students match the population we serve," Fontaine says, "so we do not have enough Hispanic nurses or faculty, as well as African-Americans and other minorities – and men!"

Men make up just 10 percent of the nursing workforce, and Fontaine hopes the field can draw more of them to join women in getting Ph.Ds and stepping into the classroom.

Drake says classes can't get bigger because much of the training for nurses is hands on. "By law for each additional 10 students we take, we need another clinical faculty member to supervise them in the hospital," she says.

Bednash says schools are looking for other ways to teach.

"Faculty are getting more and more creative about how they prepare students," she says. "They bring in other clinicians to the educational experience – having pharmacists, for instance, be involved in teaching the pharmacotherapeutics."

They're also using technology — simulators and computer-based lessons — to supplement classroom and lab experience. Nationwide, nearly 8 percent of nursing school jobs — about 1,200 — are vacant, so the AACN is lobbying for more state, federal and foundation money to train Ph.Ds. And it is urging the most promising students to get the advanced degree before they acquire a family and a mortgage.

This piece is part of a partnership with NPR, Virginia Public Radio and Kaiser Heath News.
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Challenges of Getting to Mars: Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror

Back To The Future With 'Total Recall' Remake or Is It?

Kenneth Turan reviews the film Total Recall, based on a story by Philip K. Dick and a remake of another film from the 1990, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Look for a review of the new science fiction epic "Total Recall" and you'll see headlines ready Total Makeover. You might recall the 1990 original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. With our review of the remake, here's Kenneth Turan.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: The fun in "Total Recall" is fun while it lasts, it just doesn't last long enough. The action begins at the end of the 21st century. A global chemical war has made most of the earth uninhabitable. The only livable areas center around Great Britain and a large island that looks suspiciously like Australia.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as Character) Please have your identification documents ready.

TURAN: Because this is the future, workers can commute daily via an enormous elevator-type apparatus called the Fall that hurtles right through the center of the Earth. Colin Farrell plays Quaid, a bedraggled migrant worker. Bored and disenchanted with his life, Quaid decides to get some exciting memories implanted by the helpful folks at a company called Rekall, whose motto is: We can remember it for you. But Quaid's innocent notion that it might be fun to imagine being a secret agent turns everything in his world upside down just as the procedure begins.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as Character) None of the secret life elements you chose can actually be true. It would cause irreparable conflict and confusion. It's how brains get blown.

COLIN FARRELL: (As Quaid) Don't worry. I don't have any secrets.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as Character) Get ready to save the world. Happy trails man.
TURAN: "Total Recall" is in permanent chase mode, never slowing down to catch its breath or leave anyone the leisure to think too hard about the tenuous plausibility of what we're seeing.


FARRELL: (As Quaid) It's your mistake. I'm nobody.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: (as Character) Heads on your head now.

TURAN: Director Len Wiseman, best known for the "Underworld" vampire epics, is especially good at making onscreen action really active. Though "Total Recall" starts out fast moving and imaginative, it eventually wears you out. After too many hard-to-follow chases out windows and doors and up and down ultramodern elevator shafts, after too many people saying things like, this is going to sound crazy, our system ends up on overload. There is nothing very futuristic or entertaining about that.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the L.A. Times.

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