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Mississippi community colleges face barrage of nursing applicants, struggling to meet demand

 
The Clarion-Ledger
 
Amid a statewide nursing shortage, hundreds of qualified applicants for nursing degrees are not being admitted to programs in Mississippi because the colleges can't meet the demand.

Community colleges face the most severe admissions limitations. At East Central Community College in Decatur, for example, 485 qualified applicants submitted bids for this fall's associate's degree class, and the school accepted 72.

Itawamba Community College received 850 applications and accepted 150, and at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, 456 applied with 156 admissions.

Some four-year institutions in the state are turning away nearly half their applicant pool, as well.

In one case, the University of Mississippi Medical Center's bachelor's degree in nursing drew 350 applications for this fall's class of 140 slots.

Mirrored throughout the country, this multi-faceted problem is one that some say will likely worsen as current nursing faculty members reach retirement age and prospective teachers put further education on hold to support themselves in a depressed economy.

The funding for and recruiting of faculty is the biggest barrier to accepting more students, program directors in the state say.
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