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Decker sees continued growth in pool of potential students

With more than 30 states now experiencing a nursing shortage and the demand expected to continue to grow, the Decker School of Nursing has seen 100 percent job placement of its graduating classes and increased numbers of applicants over the past few years.

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses top the list of occupations with the largest projected job growth between now and 2012. Federal projections anticipate that there will be more than 1 million vacant positions for reg-istered nurses by 2010, due to an increased need for nurses to care for America’s aging population as well as to replace the large number of nurses expected to retire in the next decade.

At Binghamton, interest in the nursing program continues to grow. “Our applications have increased 100 percent,” said Dean Sarah Hall Gueldner. “We turn away three for every one we accept.”

The interest is not limited to those fresh out of high school. The school has also seen an increase in the number of applications for the Baccalaureate Accelerated Track (BAT) program, which allows students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another field to earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing in 12 months. With room for only 30 first-year students in this year’s BAT program, the school has already received more than 400 applications, said Fran Srnka-Debnar, Decker’s coordinator of student services.

“It will end up being 500 applications for those 30 spots,” she said.

With more applicants to choose from, the quality of students admitted to the program is on the rise as well, Srnka-Debnar said. The average grade point average for students entering the program is now 3.3.

“We’ve become a lot more selective,” she said. “It’s getting very difficult to get into nursing (at Binghamton).”

The current enrollment for the school is 445 students. With growth limited by budget and the availability of clinical sites, applications are expected to continue to outdistance available space.

While having high-quality students in the program is a positive, it also has some drawbacks.

“The downside is that it will select out students who don’t have the GPAs to get in, but who would have made spectacular nurses,” she said.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08