Usually, part-time nursing students are those who are interested in a nursing career but have other responsibilities that interfere with their abilities to attend regular classes. Of late, there has been a good rise in the number of part-time nursing students for a variety of reasons. Looking at the overall scenario, it appears that the looming specter of nursing shortage is the common driving force behind large number of students opting for part-time courses.

As per February 2004 projections by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses (RNs) will top the list of 10 occupations that have the potential of the largest job growth in the years 2002-2012. It bears recalling that RNs have listed among the top 10 growth occupations in the past, but for the first time in recent history, RNs occupy the top rank.

BLS’ 10-year projections are widely used in career guidance and come in handy for concerned institutes in planning education and training programs and also in studying long-range employment trends. Thus, the BLS’ report that more than 2.9 million RNs will be employed in the year 2012, up 623,000 from the nearly 2.3 million RNs employed in 2002 has meant that many aspirants have now decided to study and pursue a career in nursing.

Unfortunately, there has not been commensurate increase in nurse educators as a result of which nursing institutes are unable to increase seats in regular courses. Seen in this backdrop, let us examine some common indicators behind the increase in part-time nursing students. 1. Second Career It’s true that the momentous events of 9/11 disaster have triggered a rush for second career in nursing, because people want a job in which they can make a difference in others’ lives. But while this trend has more or less ebbed over time, the popular choice of nursing as second career continues to rise on account of projected shortage of nurses in the coming decade.

Helen Taggart, a professor of nursing at Armstrong Atlantic State University, says, “A critical shortage of nurses is creating a crisis in healthcare that impacts both the preparation of nurses and the ability to provide quality care in the region.” In keeping with this daunting prospect, her association, the Coastal Georgia Nursing Consortium (CGNC) plans a news conference shortly to announce a special program on Nursing as a Second Career.

In most cases where aspirants have decided to opt for nursing as their second career, it is seen that they are already engaged in full-time jobs either in healthcare industry or in a completely alien field. Such career choosers are often reluctant to let go their employment and therefore likely to opt as part-time nursing students.

2. Admission Problem As noted above, the rising trend of requirement of qualified nurses has not translated into matching availability of seats in nursing institutes. This has meant that aspirants who would have otherwise gone for full-time courses, have to settle for part-time education in nursing. Since scholarships and grants are usually less available for part-time students, they need to find jobs – often full-time jobs – to run their personal and education-related expenses.