A nurse works at a computer

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred an interest in nursing careers, but many prospective nurses feel academically unprepared to pursue education toward that goal, according to a new survey.

The nearly 4,000 respondents surveyed had recently taken the ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) test of academic skills to determine their preparedness for nursing school. Of those survey respondents, 15% had not yet applied to nursing programs, reported surveyor ATI, which provides test support and technology. 

Delayed applications

Most (86%) of those who had not yet applied to school said they were either delaying their application or were not yet ready to apply, with 69% citing the desire to improve academic preparedness beforehand.

In addition, 14% of respondents who had not yet applied to a nursing program said that they were no longer considering a career in nursing. The top reason given for this change of mind was lack of academic preparedness (35%). Other reasons include the inability to afford schooling (23%) and family obligations and other responsibilities (13%).

Many prospective students said that the advent of COVID-19 had provided additional inspiration to pursue a nursing career, including 39% of those who applied to nursing school and 35% of those who had delayed application.

Support for education

“It is clear that students want to pursue careers in nursing, and equally apparent they need more support throughout their education to make these dreams a reality,” said Patty Knecht, PhD, RN, ANEF, chief nursing officer for ATI and Ascend Learning.

The companies called for “targeted investments in school communities that experienced significant learning loss during COVID-19” to help to bridge academic equity gaps. 

This is especially important considering the pandemic’s apparent effect on the next generation of potential students, who have likely lost progress in math and reading, they added.

“Earlier and more sustained investment in academic support and remediation” will help encourage more prospective nurses to move forward with their aspirations at a time of critical need, they concluded.

The ages range of those surveyed was not given, but many high school students take the TEAS test prior to applying to nursing school.

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This article originally appeared on McKnight's Long-Term Care News