The Daily Iowan

Guest Opinion: State budget cuts jeopardize Iowa nursing education

FILE - The Pentacrest in Iowa City, Iowa on Friday, September 7, 2012. (The Daily Iowan/Ian Servin)

FILE - The Pentacrest in Iowa City, Iowa on Friday, September 7, 2012. (The Daily Iowan/Ian Servin)

The Daily Iowan

The Daily Iowan

FILE - The Pentacrest in Iowa City, Iowa on Friday, September 7, 2012. (The Daily Iowan/Ian Servin)

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The UI College of Nursing is vital to fill the nursing shortage left by the growing number of retiring nurses.

Nurses represent the largest segment of the nation’s health-care workforce. With more than 3 million members, we play a vital role in successfully navigating our evolving and increasingly complex health-care system. The Institute of Medicine’s landmark Future of Nursing report calls for the percentage of nurses who attain a bachelor’s degree to increase to 80 percent by 2020. As we strive to increase the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in our state, we are also faced with tremendous professional vacancy directly attributed to the growing number of nurses who are retiring from the workforce. The Iowa Board of Nursing reports that nearly half of the registered nurses in Iowa are 50 years old or older. More than one-fifth of Iowa’s nursing workforce are eligible to retire today. 

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The University of Iowa College of Nursing is dedicated to combating state and national nursing shortages and to expanding the breadth and depth of health-care services available to Iowans. In a state, and in a country, in which the nursing shortage is starting to reach considerable and alarming levels, it behooves us to ensure we are doing everything we can to continue educating and graduating the best and brightest of the nation’s most trusted health-care professionals: nurses (in 2018, Gallup Poll findings showed that Americans rank nursing as the most honest, ethical profession for the 16th-consecutive year).

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Many of you value higher education and recognize the immense and lasting impact the UI provides. Like most of you, I realize that we must do more to support education and find long-term funding solutions. Mid-term budgetary cuts would severely effect our college and university community.

Our Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs have experienced a significant increase in enrollment in recent years. We now use high-fidelity simulated clinical laboratories to prepare students to care for patients in increasingly complex health-care systems. These essential laboratories require continued investments in infrastructure, equipment, and skilled nursing faculty. In other words, the cost of educating a nurse has increased, not decreased.

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We are dedicated to serving citizens in all 99 of Iowa’s counties; however, there is little doubt whether substantial and unanticipated budget cuts will significantly impact our ability to serve the state. We will be unable to expand the number of nurses we educate each year without increased resources. Cuts of this magnitude can have lasting and damaging effects not only on nursing but on all health-science colleges on campus. I hope you will join me in recognizing the impact and significance of higher education in Iowa. The health of our state, and every citizen in it, is worth investing in.

– Julie Zerwic

Dean and Professor

UI College of Nursing


As the UI seeks funding from the state Legislature for its fiscal 2019 appropriations request and faces the possibility of more midyear budget cuts, the DI will publish informational pieces and pieces from UI community leaders highlighting the value of higher education and calling for advocacy. Continue checking as Iowa’s universities face this critical issue.



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