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Diminishing the Pipeline of Future Nurses Puts Health of Americans at Risk

07/14/2010
Diminishing the Pipeline of Future NursesPuts Healtheof Americans at Risk

STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE NLN AND FELLOW TRI-COUNCIL ORGANIZATIONS ADVISES AGAINST SLOWING THE PRODUCTION OF RNS GIVEN PROJECTED DEMAND

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York, NY — July 14, 2010 — Workforce analysts caution that expanding nursing education capacity — including faculty, clinical resources, and physical space — to enroll and educate the numbers of students needed to meet future nursing demands continues to be critical despite "the downturn in the US economy that… has led to an easing of the nursing shortage in many parts of the country."

The "Joint Statement on Recent Registered Nurse Supply and Demand Projections" released today by the TriCouncil of Nursing takes a close look at recent deceptive statistics published on a Minnesota Public Radio blog on June 9. As described in the statement, the data to determine supply in "Whats the Right Number of Nurses?" are misleading in several ways including overstating the number of new RNs. Instead of just new registered nurses, the data counts:

  • graduates from licensed practical nurse (LPN), RN to baccalaureate, masters, doctoral, and certificate programs
  • graduates from pre-nursing, health/medical preparatory programs, and health services/allied health programs
  • graduates of nursing programs who have not passed the licensing exam and therefore cannot legally practice in the US as RNs. In 2009, 147,812 graduates passed the exam, 43,000 fewer new RNs than the supply figure used (190,615).

Said NLN president Dr. Cathleen Shultz, "The NLNs research findings on the 2008-2009 academic year indicate that the capacity of the nations nursing education programs continued to fall short of demand as a weakened economy nearly halted expansion. The four organizations comprising the TriCouncil of Nursing — American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American Nurses Association, American Organization of Nurse Executives, and the National League for Nursing - are united in the view that lessening nursing educations capacity will leave our health care system unprepared to meet the demand for essential nursing services."

Added NLN CEO Dr. Beverly Malone, "In addition to the wave of nurse retirements, we must bear in mind the escalating retirements by nurse faculty who tend to be older than the general nursing workforce. Our profession and society cannot afford to ignore these issues if we are to practice effectively in a health care environment that includes shorter hospital stays, higher patient acuity, increasing numbers of older adults with multiple chronic conditions, rapid technological advances, and proliferation of drug therapies."

The complete Tri-Council statement can be found at www.nln.org/governmentaffairs/pdf/workforce_supply_statement.pdf.

Reporters/Editors: For more information and interview opportunities please contact NLN chief communications officer Karen R. Klestzick at 212-812-0376, kklestzick@nln.org.

Dedicated to excellence in nursing, the National League for Nursing is the premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education. The NLN offers faculty development, networking opportunities, testing services, nursing research grants, and public policy initiatives to its 31,000 individual and 1,200 institutional members who represent all types of nursing education programs.

The Tri-Council is an alliance of four autonomous nursing organizations each focused on leadership for education, practice, and research. While each organization has its own constituent membership and unique mission, they are united by common values and convene regularly for the purpose of dialogue and consensus building, to provide stewardship within the profession of nursing. These organizations represent nurses in practice, nurse executives, and nursing educators.