Dean of UH nursing school talks tough acceptance rate, worker shortage
In recognition of National Nurses Week, we talked to the dean of the University of Hawaiʻi’s Nancy Atmospera-Walch School of Nursing, Clementina Ceria-Ulep.
She is a graduate of the department she now leads — a school that is turning away qualified applicants in a very competitive field. On average, she said they get about 600 applicants for 48 spots.
"We admit about 6% to 12% of applicants, and highly qualified, sometimes the average GPA is like 3.89, and we turn down someone with a 3.6," Ceria-Ulep said. "The slot is limited by two factors. One is the nursing faculty shortage, but more seriously, it's the clinical placement, meaning the hands-on site is limited."
Ceria-Ulep first joined the school as faculty in 1993. She previously led the school in an acting and interim capacity, starting in August 2021. She also happens to be Filipina, one of the few executives in the field of nursing students that often is 40% Filipino.
"When it comes to the graduate program, it's not at that level, it's more like, maybe less than 5%," she said. "If you look at the number of Filipinos who are faculty, period, it's like 3% to 5%. And in executive management, it's like 1%."
Ceria-Ulep said it's crucial to improve training and pay for local nurses. She said it's difficult for them to watch short-term, contract nurses receive $40 to $50 more an hour, in addition to housing and transportation.
"When I was a nurse manager in 1988, 1989, before I went to get my Ph.D., it was the same situation. I was hiring a whole new staff every three months from all over the world," she said. "We would pick them up, drop them off, our contract nurses, and I would see a local nurse waiting by the bus stop."
This interview aired on The Conversation on May 10, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.