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The Editors

To End the Nurse Shortage, Start With Nursing Schools

Training programs across the US simply don’t have enough educators to meet demand.

Superheroes in short supply.

Superheroes in short supply.

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

The US is in the thick of a nursing shortage. And yet, nursing schools are turning away more qualified applications than ever. The main bottleneck, schools say, is that there aren’t enough instructors or training sites to accommodate the vast number of interested students. Restoring the pandemic-depleted health-care workforce depends on fixing this mismatch.

Covid-19 took a toll on nurses. Many older ones retired early, fearful of catching the virus or plain exhausted from the demands of the job. Fleets of younger nurses left salaried positions at hospitals for more lucrative contract work. Those who remained as full-time staff have described working 24-hour shifts, with barely enough time to eat or use the restroom. Tens of thousands of nurses have gone on strike, most demanding better working conditions.