Video screenshot of Susan Gallagher-Lepak

Wanted: Nursing Educators

GREEN BAY – R.N. Susan Gallagher-Lepak gets nervous when she looks into her crystal ball and sees where the nursing profession and regional healthcare needs are headed. The picture isn’t particularly pretty.

“The nurse and nursing faculty workforce shortage ahead have the potential to impact both the quality and availability of healthcare in communities across our region,” says Gallagher-Lepak, a nursing educator herself and chairperson of the Nursing Department at the University of Wisconsin‑Green Bay.

Not having enough nurses to meet future regional demand for healthcare service is one thing. Not having enough teachers to teach nurses and in turn fill that gap is a double whammy. According to the Wisconsin Center for Nursing, Wisconsin could see a shortage of at least 20,000 nurses by 2035—that’s only 20 years away. The lack of nurse educators contributes to the nurse shortage in Northeast Wisconsin and across the state and country. Gallagher-Lepak is working with fellow nursing educators across the state on efforts to change that trend.

Nurses for Wisconsin, a partnership between University of Wisconsin System nursing programs at UW‑Green Bay, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW Oshkosh and UW-Stevens Point put to work a $3.2 million Economic Development Incentive Grant program a few years ago to address the nurse educator shortage and recruit faculty. The grant supported fellowship and education loan forgiveness programs to encourage nurses to pursue doctoral degrees or postdoctoral training and assume nurse educator positions in Wisconsin. In turn, these nurse educators will teach for three years in a Wisconsin nursing program with the hope they will remain in the state as nurse educators.

“The demand for nursing services continues to grow as we move to a greater focus on preventive care, as well as handle healthcare needs of an aging population,” Gallagher-Lepak notes. “UW-System nursing programs have worked hard over the last decade to grow the number of graduates from nursing programs in the state. We need more nurse educators to continue this effort and continue to increase the number of student seats in nursing programs.”

While the partnership is gaining traction (33 Wisconsin nurses obtained their doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) or their PHD in nursing since the program kicked off in 2013), the effort is only a start to solving the problem of the nursing faculty shortage, not only in the UW System but across the state and nation.

The partnership this week launched a series of videos focused on the urgent demand for nurse educators within the University of Wisconsin System, including Why Consider UW‑Green Bay for a Degree in Nursing Education.

Partners like Gallagher-Lepak and others hope the video series will get the word out about the shortage and attract candidates to the award-winning programs in the UW System. The series includes faculty members, clinical staff and students sharing their personal experiences and highlighting unique aspects of their specific nursing programs. The videos also emphasize the growing demand for nurse educators and encourage nurses to consider this option as a career path.

“Marketing campaigns, like our video series, at the national level that focus on our quality UW System nursing programs and the students and faculty in the colleges and schools of nursing are necessary to compete for the highly sought-after faculty candidates,” said Dr. Linda K. Young, dean of the UW-Eau Claire College of Nursing and Health Sciences and principal investigator on the proposal that led to the UW System grant.

The Professional Program in Nursing at UW‑Green Bay provides an opportunity for the following nursing programs:

  • RN-BSN Completion: Registered Nurses (RNs) holding an associate degree or diploma in nursing can earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN)
  • Nurse 1-2-1: A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree through the combined resources of UW‑Green Bay and Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College; This program begins in fall 2016 Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Leadership and Management in Health Systems 


For more information go to Nursing at UW‑Green Bay

About the University of Wisconsin‑Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin‑Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,700 students. The University transforms lives and communities through exceptional and award-winning teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities, and a problem-solving approach to education. For more information, visit www.uwgb.edu.

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