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Congress Considers Major Investment in Nursing Education as Part of Economic Recovery

A Letter From the Center to Champion Nursing in America

January 30, 2009

Dear Colleagues,

The Center to Champion Nursing in Amerca is pleased to share some exciting news with you. It looks as if Congress is on the verge of passing a major new investment in nursing education.  If recent actions hold firm, this would represent the most significant action taken to date by the federal government to tackle our nursing shortage.

This week the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which includes a major increase in federal finding for nurse education and training, including:

  • $250 million for Department of Labor's High Growth Job Training Initiative which funds competitive grants to nursing schools, health facilities and others.  The language gives priority to "green" jobs and health care jobs.
  • $600 million to directly address the nursing shortage and other health care workforce shortages to be used for scholarships and loan repayments under Titles VIII and VII of the Public Health Service Act.  These finds could also be used to make grants to nursing schools for equipment, such as simulation equipment, which aims to increase educational capacity, a propsal specifically advanced by AARP.


The full Senate is expected to take up this legislation next week.  The House of Representatives passed similar legislation, also with very similar funding for nursing education and training this week.  Congressional leaders have committed to sending final legislation to the President by February 13. 

We want to thank our colleagues at AARP, as well as colleagues from many other organizations, who worked hard to ensure funding for nursing education in the economic recovery plan. Below you'll find an excerpt from a letter sent by AARP to Congressional leaders and the Obama Transition Team in December.

As we mentioned, this development represents the most significant action to date by Congress to come to grips with the nursing shortage.  This is a great day for AARP members and their families, indeed for all consumers, as well as all of us who are working to ensure that wer have the well-prepared nurses we need now and in the future.

Sincerely,

Brenda Cleary, PhD, RN, FAAN

Director

Center to Champion Nursing in America

Susan C. Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN

Senior Vice President and Director

AARP Public Policy Institute

Chief Strategist

Center to Champion Nursing in America

Excerpt from AARP letter to the President Elect's Transition Team and Congressional Leaders:

At a time when millons of Americans are unemployed, there are well over 200,000 good paying nursing jobs in our hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, community health centers, public health departments and nursing schools going unfilled largely because our nursing schools lack the faculty and other capacity to educate enough students.  In 2006, some 88,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing schools.  A modest, well-targeted investment in capacity expansion at our nursing schools would pave the way to fill many thousands of these job openings within the next 2-3 years and provide a crucial part of the health care workforce infrastructure necessary for successful health care reform.  The nurses produced through this investment are the chronic care/prevention managers, care coordinators, and nurse educators of tomorrow

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