Colorado has over 40 schools of nursing, located in many parts of the state. Led and supported by over 900 full and part-time nursing faculty, these schools graduate roughly 2,500 new nurses each year. Some programs provide graduates with a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN); other progams provide a four-year Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
According to a January 2010 nursing faculty study conducted by The Colorado Health Institute (CHI), the average age of a nursing faculty member is 50 years old, with 42 percent over the age of 55. Twenty-seven percent have a BSN degree, while 73 percent have a Masters or above academic degree. Overall, 57 percent work full time as nursing educators; the remaining 43 percent are part-time classroom or clinical instructors.
The supply of nursing faculty has been a bottleneck in Colorado's ability to educate new nurses, with 77% of nurse educators indicating that their school faces a current shortage of faculty. With 42 percent of current nursing faculty over the age of 55 and only 11 percent under the age of 34, this shortage promises to become more severe over the coming decade. Data from the 2010 CHI study indicated that 25 percent of faculty intend to retire by 2015; another 25 percent stated their intention to retire during the next five year period, ending in 2010.
This nursing faculty demographic profile suggests that, at a minimum, Colorado schools of nursing will need to recruit and retain at least 45 new nursing faculty each year over the coming decade. Given the low levels of enrollment in Masters and above academic degrees in Colorado and nationally, this task presents a very significant challenge.