ANA urges Congress to invest in nursing workforce development. ANA endorses the Nursing School Capacity Act.

ANA has launched a campaign aimed at increasing federal funding for nursing recruitment and education by $50 million. If successful, this campaign would result in a total of $200 million in fiscal year (FY) 2008 funding for the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

This investment is needed now to address the growing nursing shortage. HRSA projects that, absent aggressive intervention, the supply of nurses in America will fall 36 percent (more than 1 million nurses) below requirements by the year 2020. The Department of Labor (DOL) recently reported that registered nurses (RNs) are projected to create the second largest number of new jobs among all U.S. occupations in the decade between 2004 and 2014. During this period, the DOL reports that America will need to produce 1.2 million new RNs to accommodate growing patient needs and replace retiring nurses.

The Title VIII programs could make a real difference in this growing shortage if they were properly funded. Title VIII includes the following programs:

  • Advanced Education Nursing—Provides grants to nursing schools and academic health centers, and individual traineeships to prepare nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, nurse educators, nurse administrators, and public health nurses.
  • Workforce Diversity Grants—Provides grants to increase nursing educational opportunities for individuals who are from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Nurse Education, Practice, and Retention Grants—Supports schools and nurses at the associate and baccalaureate degree level. Some grants (such as grants promoting the Magnet™ Hospital best practices for nursing administration) are also available to healthcare facilities.
  • Loan Repayment and Scholarship—Provides loan repayments and scholarships to individual RNs who agree to work in facilities deemed to have a critical shortage of nurses.
  • Nurse Faculty Loan Program—Establishes loan programs to support masters and doctoral students who can then have the majority of these loans repaid by working as nursing faculty.
  • Comprehensive Geriatric Education Grants—Supports students and faculty in geriatric nursing care.

Funding for Title VIII has actually been cut slightly over the last 3 years. ANA contends that now is the time to make Nursing Workforce Development a top priority. ANA’s $200 million request has been supported by a bipartisan group of Congressional nursing leaders. But, competing funding priorities—such as the State Children’s Insurance Program, the National Institutes of Health, veteran’s health care, etc.—will make it hard to secure this new funding. You can help! Contact your Congressional Delegation today and urge them to make nursing a funding top priority. You can find background materials, information on your delegation, and draft letters to Congress at www.anapolitcalpower.org.

ANA endorses the Nursing School Capacity Act

By Erin McKeon
ANA has endorsed the Nursing School Capacity Act of 2007 (HR 677). This bill, introduced by Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ), would require the National Academy of Sciences to research: the reasons that schools of nursing are turning away qualified applicants; the sources of the nursing faculty shortage; tech­nologies that may improve clinical education; and measures that can improve nurse retention.

ANA’s support for this bill is rooted in our concern that the nursing faculty shortage is complicating efforts to increase the nursing workforce. U.S. schools of nursing turned away more than 140,000 qualified applicants for the 2005-06 academic year. Preliminary data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) show that 42,866 qualified applicants were turned away from baccalaureate programs alone in the 2006-07 academic year. The main reason cited for this lack of educational capacity is a shortage of nurse faculty. The National League for Nursing released a survey in July 2006 showing a shortage of nearly 1,400 nursing faculty. AACN reported an 8.5% vacancy rate for nursing faculty for the 2005-06 academic year. The Nursing School Capacity Act would commission studies that will help federal and state governments design programs to combat this shortage. You can follow the progress of the Nursing School Capacity Act on ANA’s government affairs website, www.anapoliticalpower.org.

Erin McKeon is Associate Director of ANA’s Department of Government Affairs.

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