Monday, December 22, 2008

Economic downturn hurts ASU nursing school

[Source: Jahna Berry, The Arizona Republic] - Arizona State University's nursing school capped a historic and challenging year this week, honoring a record-breaking graduating class.

"It's been an unbelievable journey," graduate Gina Dioguardi, 24, said Wednesday as she helped fellow graduate Leticia Medina, 22, put on her cap and gown. The two were part of 276 graduates from ASU's College of Nursing and Healthcare Innovation who were recognized at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Like any new degree-holder, the nurses are worried about jobs.

"Because of the economy, there aren't a lot of places that are hiring," Medina said.

Even though the state has a nursing shortage, some employers have a limited number of slots for entry-level nurses because they cost more to train, Medina added.

The economic downturn is also taking a toll on the school.

As the nursing school celebrated its 50th year, the college was one of several ASU divisions hurt by university-wide budget cuts.

Officials say enrollment will be cut from 80 students to 40 at ASU's Polytechnic campus this spring and by the same amount at the West campus next fall.

Enrollment at the downtown Phoenix campus will remain the same. ASU plans to cut enrollment because it expects to lose some state funding.

The nursing school has 1,800 students. The college is based in downtown Phoenix, but students can take nursing classes on several ASU campuses.

The nursing cuts would come at a time when Arizona is struggling with a nursing shortage.
Last year, the state had 681 registered nurses per 100,000 people, below the national average of 825 registered nurses per 100,000, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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