Passing on School Truly a Failure
by, 03-23-2011 at 10:11 AM (10894 Views)
The call for a highly educated nursing workforce has been delivered by nurse experts, supported by studies conducted by the Institute of Medicine and Carnegie Foundation, and endorsed by professional nursing organizations. Yet, we still drag our feet when it comes to returning to school.
One of the most common excuses I hear from nurses about returning to school is that it is too expensive. Over the past year, more attention has been devoted to whether a college education is a wise investment. Several economics experts have considered the issue of rising tuition rates as compared to the return on financial investment.
Specifically, they claim that some majors, such as social work and education, produce a low rate of return.
In 1964, the National League for Nursing estimated the annual cost of a diploma nursing education as $1,100 a year. By 1981, tuition and fees for a baccalaureate education were averaging about $3,000 a year. Today, the College Board — a nonprofit group that focuses on expanding access to higher education — estimates in-state tuition and fees for full-time students enrolled in public four-year colleges averages $7,605 and can run as much as $35,000 a year for private colleges.
Even with rising tuition rates, enrollment in schools of nursing continues to rise. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, between 2009 and 2010, enrollment in baccalaureate programs increased by 6.1%. Similarly, enrollment in master’s programs grew by 9.8%. Research-focused doctoral programs saw an increase of 4.5% as compared to a 25.6% growth in DNP programs. These numbers reinforce the notion that a nursing education remains a valuable commodity.
I have been thinking about returning to school for several years but have been hampered by my own personal list of reasons as to why it was not feasible.
My excuses included the usual litany. I was too busy. My family needed me. And, of course, school was too expensive. After all, I already was paying tuition for one child. How could I possibly afford a second tuition?
In reality, the lack of time and money were not the true reasons preventing me from going back to school. I was paralyzed by my fear of failure. Would a school accept me? Could I successfully navigate a formal education program? What if I didn’t have what it took to pass the classes?
I finally bit the bullet and am proud to say I am eagerly pursing a doctoral degree in nursing. I enjoy being exposed to the world of higher education and comparing notes with my daughter, who is a college sophomore. But more importantly, I love the intellectual stimulation and being able to expand my knowledge of nursing and healthcare. Finally, given the high cost of a college degree, I am definitely getting my money’s worth.
As our practice becomes more complex, we must accept the role of lifelong learners if we expect to improve patient-care outcomes. So when asked if going back to school is a good investment, my reply is, “I can’t afford not to.”