As the University of California, Irvine presses its case for a brand new law school despite an official finding that California's supply of lawyers is more than adequate, there is a genuine and urgent need to train more nurses. Dan Walters, the pre-eminent Sacramento columnist, who joined me in opposing the US Irvine law school boondoggle, today compares the need for nurses with the lack of need for lawyers, and wonders why the university flouts the public good.
Even though there's been a significant increase in training programs in recent years, the state has an estimated 17,000 qualified nursing applicants on schools' waiting lists.
The Legislature's budget analyst, Elizabeth Hill, issued a report on the state's looming shortage of nurses in May, noting that the University of California, in a study by its San Francisco medical school, forecast a demand for registered nurses in 2014 that's 40,000 higher than the current forecast of supply, given retirement and other factors.
Demand will continue to outpace supply, at least from in-state sources, as baby-boom generation nurses retire and they and other members of that immense cohort require more nursing care.
If the University of California is to continue to receive lavish public support, it should learn to respect the needs of the public. The resources being squandered on a redundant law school should be directed to addressing a very real need for more nurses. UC Irvine claims it has raised outside funds for the Law School, but of course there is the opportunity cost of not pursuing a desperately-needed school of nursing. Land, staff time, and fund raising efforts are, of course, finite.
Academia is known for its arrogance, but this takes the cake.