Survey findings from nearly 4000 prospective nursing students show that a significant proportion had not yet applied to nursing school after taking the entrance examination. The most commonly reported reason for this delay was feeling academically unprepared for nursing education, according to findings reported by ATI, which conducted the survey.

The nurse staffing shortages at many US hospitals and health systems have raised concerns about the nursing pipeline. Many nursing programs struggle to enroll, retain, support, and graduate academically prepared students during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ATI.

Continue Reading

The online survey was conducted between May 13, 2022, and June 13, 2022, among 3917 potential nursing students who recently completed the ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS). The survey was designed to investigate the following:

  • TEAS takers’ academic, emotional, and financial preparedness for nursing school
  • Current sentiment about applying to nursing school
  • COVID-19-related impacts that may be driving these trends

Of the 85% of respondents who applied to nursing school within 5 months of taking the TEAS, approximately 74% were accepted. Of respondents who applied to more than 1 program, 83% reported being accepted to their top choice.

Reasons for Not Applying to Nursing School

Of the 15% of respondents who did not apply to a nursing program, 86% said they were delaying their application or were not ready to apply.  The most commonly cited reason for not applying was the desire to improve academic preparedness (69%).

Fourteen percent of those who did not apply indicated that they changed their mind about a nursing career for the following reasons:

  • Choose a different career (38%)
  • Lack of academic preparedness (35%)Inability to afford nursing school (23%)
  • Nurses’ working conditions during COVID-19 (19%)
  • Family/other responsibilities that would make it difficult to fit nursing school into their lives (13%)

“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. “Earlier and more sustained investment in academic support and remediation can help to mitigate the challenges cited by prospective nursing students and bring more nurses into the pipeline at a time of critical need. Targeted investments in school communities that experienced significant learning loss during COVID-19 would help to bridge equity gaps and support more students who have the aptitude, desire, and passion to pursue nursing careers but lack the academic and financial resources they need to succeed.”

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Nursing Students

The COVID-19 pandemic also played a role in why students were more interested in nursing careers. Thirty-nine percent of those who applied to nursing school reported that the pandemic made them more interested in the nursing profession, while 8% stated that the pandemic made them less interested in the profession.


1. Amid a national nursing shortage, prospective nursing students say lack of academic preparedness is the driving decision to delay or forego nursing school. ATI. September 7, 2022. Accessed September 8, 2022.

2. ATI TEAS test taker survey. Accessed September 8, 2022.