Once accepted into the major, students must practice on dummies. 

This spring, JMU’s nursing program will accept 23 more students, which equates to a 25% increase in acceptance. The jump means the most recently accepted class will amount to a total of 113 students, as opposed to the 90 accepted in past admission cycles.

Jamie Robinson, associate director of undergraduate programs, said the nursing shortage across the country has to do with why JMU increased the number of students accepted. The first reason for the shortage is the generation of Baby Boomers who are getting older.

“Those individuals are aging now andrequiring more health care resources, and that means that we need to have more nurses,” Robinson said. The second reason is because most nurses are above age 40, which means many nurses are of retirement age. So, considering we have an increased need for nurses and then more nurses retiring, it puts you in a place where you have a shortage.”

She said another reason the program wanted to accept more students is because of the number of qualified applicants who apply each cycle. They collaborated with their clinical partners and decided they had room to do a 25% increase in admittance. 

This decision has been popular with students, one of them being junior Emily Edens. Edens, who was accepted into the nursing program this past September, said she feels that admitting more students was a smart idea on the program’s part.

“It is a great thing for deserving students that have the grades and scores to get in the program, so obviously, it’s good for the students,” Edens said. “But I mean, for Virginia as a whole, pushing out more nursing students into areas that need nurses, I mean, it can only benefit people.”

Since the nursing program at JMU is so competitive, Edens said that the process she went through to get in was a long and hard one. The number of students who apply changes each admission cycle, but it used to be that only 90 students got in based solely on their GPA and four prerequisite classes, which are math, chemistry and two biology classes. They’re also asked to write a short essay on what influenced them to pursue nursing as a career. 

“It was really stressful wondering, is my score good enough?” Edens said. “‘Does somebody have a higher score than me? Where do I fall on the spectrum of these scores?’”

Similarly, Sarah Sturtevant, who got into the program last spring, said she was stressed out applying to the program.

“Before starting the program, you have to have all A’s to get in, so everyone is competing with all of these other people who are applying, and it’s just a super stressful time,” Sturtevant said.

She said the fact that they opened all of these spots is a great thing.

“Once they hit that 90 mark, 10 people after them could have the same score as the 90, so I think this opens up a lot more opportunities for deserving students to get in,” Sturtevant said.

Now, the first 113 highest scores get in, and if there are any neck-and-neck scores, they go down to the 1,000th decimal place to break ties. The students’ essays are used as a tie-breaking method as well.

To accommodate the increase in students, Robinson said that they’re hiring five more professors so that students will have more clinical sections. They’ll also break up some of their classes into two sections so there aren’t too many students in one class. Robinson said she thinks getting into the program will be easier for students who are qualified.

“I don’t know to what degree because the amount of students that apply to each admission cycle varies, so I think just having more opportunity for admission is helpful for our students,” Robinson said.

CORRECTION (Oct. 25, 3:18 p.m.): A previous version of this article stated that the nursing class was expanded to 113 this fall, when in actuality, it will not be expanded until the coming spring. It also stated that the clinical partners were all directly contacted, when in actuality, their needs were considered, but not all were contacted.

Contact Isabela Gladston at For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.