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Nursing programs see rise in applications across the country

The pandemic is sparking an interest in a profession that needs more people. As a result, nursing programs across the country are seeing a rise in applicants.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Nursing programs across the country are seeing a rise in applicants.

Newswatch 16 talked to a nursing professor from the University of Scranton about what she is seeing.

A life-like mannequin lying in a simulated hospital room is a learning tool nursing professors at the University of Scranton had to rely on heavily last year when classes were taught virtually. 

"This technology really has supported our program, and we are continuing to use that even as we go back into the clinical setting," said Dr. Margaret Zalon from the University of Scranton.

But of course, Dr. Zalon says it's not the same without that personal connection with a patient.

That connection not only helps a nurse better care for their patient, it also helps inspire future nurses.

She added, "People who go into nursing do so because they've had a personal experience with a nurse either taking care of themselves or someone in their family."

Unfortunately, a lot of people had those experiences during the pandemic. 

The good news is, it's sparking interest in the field of nursing. COVID-19 not only made the profession more visible, but it also gave young people first-hand experience with taking care of others. 

"They may have had more exposure to people who've been sick, either providing direct care for loved ones or seeing loved ones suffer," explained Dr. Zalon.

Nationwide, enrollment in nursing programs is up 5.6% in 2020, compared to the year before.

That's according to a report from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing

But while there's certainly not a shortage of nursing students, there is a shortage of current nurses at hospitals across the country.

"This is a serious crisis. The American Nurses Association declared the nursing shortage a public health crisis a month ago. So it's a welcome sign, but it needs to continue," said Dr. Zalon.