The trend to cut RNs for LPNs & aides is reversing

Nov 25, 2019

Applications are increasing at the University at Buffalo's nursing school, as the job prospects are looking better for registered nurses. They are an increasingly diverse group.

Going back more than a decade, nursing jobs weren't attractive as hospitals shifted more and more to LPNs and nursing assistants, avoiding the cost of RNs. In very recent years, that's changed as healthcare realized the skills of nurses are important in hospital care and the applicant curve has shifted upward.

Nurse Mary Carey at the lab.
Credit University at Buffalo

"When you talk about the workforce, we primarily have associate-prepared and baccalaureate-prepared nurses in Western New York area," said Catherine Mann, assistant dean of undergraduate studies at the nursing school. "We're starting to see a shift in nurses hired prior to the BS in 10 legislation, but more so now where you are looking at bachelor-prepared nurses being the ones that are being hired."

Mann said increasing interest in registered nurses is showing up in the people wanting to be RNs.

"There are increasing numbers of applicants to the school, but one of our biggest hurdles in nursing education is that we turn away qualified nursing students across the nation because we don't have enough qualified nursing faculty."

Students in UB's Nurse Anesthetist Program.
Credit University at Buffalo

That is why UB and many other university nursing programs are increasing the ranks of the graduate students who will eventually be the increased faculty training increasing numbers of RNs. They are more needed because hospital patients are sicker than in recent decades, and patients use urgent care and other resources that don't put them in a hospital bed.

Mann said students also learn to push back against doctors in order to advocate for patients.

"Often it is is the nurses who first see the cues that are signs and symptoms that something is not going the way we want it to go," she said. "So the impact on and the experiences of your education, the broader your education is, the way that you are taught how to think, is something that we do at UB."