Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


The growing concern regarding the short age of nurses and the decline in enrollment in nursing programs being expressed by nurse leaders, practicing nurses, other health professionals and the public at large is a signal for the nursing profession to pause and take a considered look a t its strengths and weaknesses. The purpose of this case study was to investigate three specific concerns related to the shortage of nurses and decline in enrollment in nursing programs: (1) identification of reasons for the nursing shortage and enrollment decline, (2) identification of weaknesses in nursing which have contributed to the shortage of nurses and enrollment decline, and (3) identification of strengths in the nursing profession that could attract people to nursing. Based on the data obtained from Arizona nurses on their perceptions relating to the nursing shortage and enrollment decline, strategies were identified to attract qualified students into nursing programs and keep practicing nurses in the profession. In this case study there were several processes used for the collection of data. The first process consisted of an intensive literature review on the shortage of nurses and decline in enrollment in nursing programs. Then interviews were conducted with nurse leaders, nurse educators, and practicing nurses in Maricopa County (Arizona). Next, two different questionnaires were sent to two separate random samples of 700 registered nurses who work in Arizona. The interviews and the first questionnaire focused on the cause of the nursing shortage and decline in enrollment in nursing programs, weaknesses in the profession contributing to this manpower shortage, and strengths which might attract people to the profession. Based on information gained from content analysis of the first questionnaire, a second questionnaire was developed to determine Arizona nurses' perceptions on strategies needed to attract qualified students into nursing programs and to keep practicing nurses in the profession. The findings from the interviews and first survey were consistent with what many leaders in the health field had postulated as reasons for the shortage. There were several major issues that the nurses identified as causes for the nursing shortage and enrollment decline in nursing programs. The issue that was repeated most frequently related to the lack of adequate financial compensation. This issue was also considered a weakness in the nursing profession and the reason women are choosing other careers instead of nursing. Respondents believed that nursing salaries should be increased. Many respondents also believed that nursing has a poor image due to peer general working conditions and the way the media depicts nursing. Strategies given by respondents to counter this negative image were to develop a marketing approach to recruit, promote, and sell nursing as a viable career choice. Based on the findings of the study, the following actions were recommended: (1) nursing faculty members should serve on committees and task forces to impact decisions that affect nurses' salaries, (2) nursing faculty members should keep abreast of political issues that impact nurses and, as issues come up, network with other nurses to affect decisions regarding nursing concerns, (3) the Phoenix College Nursing program should investigate and implement innovative marketing strategies for student recruitment, (4) nursing faculty should attend career days in high schools to represent nursing, (5) nursing students should be encouraged to take courses in leadership, management, and assertiveness training skills, (6) the Phoenix College nursing program should investigate areas of nursing interest in continuing education to develop and conduct continuing education courses according to local need, and (7) a panel of nurse leaders and educators from the community colleges and universities should be established to lobby television and other media sources to portray nursing in a more positive manner.

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