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A shortage of tenured teachers at UND's College of Nursing could worsen, causing the college to cut enrollment and produce fewer nurses in the midst of a national nurse shortfall. Potential cuts in enrollment at the college are a worst-case scenario said Elizabeth Nichols, dean of the College of Nursing.

The college has reached a tentative agreement with the Grand Forks Department of Public Health to provide a nursing instructor for UND's fall semester. Other temporary instructors are expected to fill the remaining five open tenured positions this fall.

We certainly have enough instructors to teach the students, Nichols said. We're down in numbers, but we have enough to teach. Certainly, there's a real concern with faculty trained nurses, who are aging like everyone else, she added.

Besides positions open because of retirements, nursing instructors can receive higher salaries in the private field, Nicholas said. Salaries haven't remained competitive. There's a big demand for. ... nurses with doctorates, Nichols said. Of the college's 24 full-time, tenured positions, only 18 will be filled by permanent teachers this fall.

The college doesn't expect the shortage to continue, but with North Dakota's climate it's difficult to attract new teachers, she said. Certainly it's conceivable, she said of cutting enrollment, now at an estimated 350 students, counting both undergraduate and graduate students. There are also 416 pre-nursing students at UND, about half of whom could become enrolled in the college.

Each year, more students apply at the college than are accepted, she said, but if the college has to cut its enrollment, it could cause a domino effect in the health care field, which is already experiencing a shortage of nurses.

The agreement with Public Health is not yet contractual; the City Council is expected to decide on the temporary agreement when it meets Monday. If approved, the $7,500 contract between UND and the city would provide an instructor from August to December.

It's a win-win situation for Public Health and the college, said Don Shields, director of the Grand Forks Department of Public Health, which already provides community training services for future nurses in the UND program. It is (temporary) unless they want to pursue it further.

Grand Forks Herald, August 16, 2000

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