NLN Board Goes to the Hill Advocates for Title VII and VIII Funding
The NLN Board of Governors took to Capitol Hill on April 27. During the meetings with their congressional delegations, board members advocated for increased funding for Title VIII — Nursing Workforce Development Programs and for the Health Professions Programs under Title VII of the Public Health Service Act. Armed with data, the board members took on the role of nurse advocates. In their visits, they noted that:
Title VIII — Nursing Workforce Development Programs
- The NLN supports a budget of $267.3 million in FY 2011 (a 10 percent increase) for the Nursing Workforce Development Programs.
- The NLN also recommends that the requested increase be directed to the Title VIII programs that have not kept pace with inflation since FY 2005: Advanced Education Nursing, Nursing Workforce Diversity, Nurse Education, Practice and Retention, and Comprehensive Geriatric Education.
- Our health care system is integral to the US economy. With a spending level of $2.5 trillion in 2009, it constitutes the largest share of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP), growing from 8.8 percent of GDP in 1980 to 17.6 percent of GDP in 2009. It is virtually the only sector that added jobs to the economy on a net basis since 2001.
- With an estimated 3.733 million licensed RNs in 2008, nurses represent the largest occupation of all health care workers in the United States and provide 85 percent of the health care delivery.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of RNs is expected to grow 22 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. During this time, the system is projected to generate 581,500 new RN jobs.
- The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) projects that, absent aggressive intervention, the RN workforce will fall 36 percent below requirements by the year 2020.
- The present nurse faculty staffing deficit is expected to intensify as the existing nurse educator workforce reaches retirement age, with 48 percent of nurse faculty over the age of 55, fully one-half of today's nurse faculty workforce is expected to retire by 2015, while more than one in five (21 percent) expects to retire within the next five years.
- The two main difficulties in hiring new faculty in 2007-08 were "not enough qualified candidates" (cited by 46 percent of schools), followed by inability to offer competitive salaries (cited by 38 percent).
Title VII — Health Professions Programs
- The NLN is supporting an FY 2011 budget of at least $330 million for Title VII — Health Professions Programs. This request will restore funding to critical programs that sustained drastic funding reductions in FY 2006 and remain well below FY 2005 levels.
- As of September 30, 2009, there are 6,204 Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas with 65 million people living in them. It would take 16,643 practitioners to meet their need for primary care providers (a population to practitioner ratio of 2,000:1). Title VII programs are a cost-effective source of federal funding for the education of health care providers who are more likely to return to medically underserved areas where shortages occur.
- A report by the Institute of Medicine characterized the HRSA health professions programs as an "undervalued asset" and recommended that Congress "invest in programs with proven effectiveness."
- With appropriate funding, HRSA anticipates meeting FY 2011 targets where 53 percent of graduates and program completers of Title VII-supported programs will be underrepresented minorities and/or individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds; 54 percent of trainees will be training in medically underserved communities; and 43 percent of health professionals supported by the program will enter practice in underserved areas.
NIOSH Releases "Safe Patient Handling Training for Schools of Nursing"
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released its final version of the Safe Patient Handling Training for Schools of Nursing, Publication No.: 2009-127. The material includes a booklet and the safe patient handling and movement web-based training. Users can play the flash media from a computer, print the PDF of the booklet, or download the entire CD contents (booklet and flash presentation). Curriculum for the program was developed in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Veterans Health Administration, and the American Nurses Association.
Go to www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2009-127/ to view and download the booklet.
FROM THE STATES . . .
New Mexico Addresses Nurse Shortage
Educators, government officials, and health care representatives are developing a statewide plan to expand the pipeline of nurses trained at New Mexico colleges and universities. A legislative memorial (HM-50), approved in February, urged public and private collaboration on a strategic plan to train more nurses. That led to the creation of a new task force this year with representation from the 17 state colleges that offer nursing programs. A different task force convened last year reported that a severe shortage of teachers is the biggest problem faced by nursing programs. It identified low wages as a major impediment to recruiting more faculty.
New Mexico colleges have greatly expanded their capacity in recent years. According to a recent report by the New Mexico Center for Nursing Excellence, they graduated 2,600 new RNs and 130 LPNs between 2002 and 2008. Nevertheless, shortages remain chronic. The report estimated a current deficit of more than 1,000 nurses. It projected future shortages at 2,800 by 2015 and 5,000 by 2020. The current educational system cannot accommodate growing demand. About 20 percent of qualified nursing program applicants were turned away last year because of a lack of space.
The new task force will focus heavily on efficiency through statewide collaboration. They will be considering:
- a unified, statewide curriculum
- sharing of faculty among programs
- sharing of simulation technology
- use of tele-education and other distance learning techniques
- dual enrollment in associate and bachelor's degree programs
- early entry into master's and doctoral degree programs
- statewide coordination of clinical internships for students
Iowa Initiative to Bolster Nurse Shortage
On April 21, 2010, Iowa Governor Chet Culver (D) signed a bill — SB 2384 — establishing the "Iowa Needs Nurses Now" initiative, which will track the industry's workforce data and disperse private, federal, or future state-allocated dollars into programs that provide incentives for nurses to work in Iowa. The law will help boost a nursing workforce that faces a shortfall. "Nurses are the backbone of our health care delivery system," Culver said. "This sets up a structure to build a work force and understand the nursing workforce needs."
Some of the major provisions include:
- calling for the creation of a nursing work force data clearinghouse
- supporting and creating incentives for nurses in Iowa, including medical training matching grants programs, provider recruitment, and retention initiatives
- directing the Iowa College Student Aid Commission to establish a nurse educator incentive payment program, nursing faculty fellowship program, nurse educator scholarship program, and nurse educator scholarship-in-exchange-for-service program
Iowa officials said the initiative will give the state better access to federal and private funds as well as encourage future legislative sessions to pump money into nurse recruiting and retention programs.
Connecticut Restores Funding for LPN Program
State Representative Peggy Sayers, RN (D-Windsor/Windsor Locks) led a successful effort to restore funding for the LPN program at the state's vocational technical high schools. As part of a $480 million deficit mitigation package of budget reductions and adjustments recently approved by the legislature, funding for the LPN program was added for the next fiscal year beginning July 1. The LPN program was previously suspended by the governor and has been dormant since January 1, 2010.
Sayers said the elimination of state funding for the LPN program would not only hurt job growth but also public health. "LPNs are the backbone of our state's nursing home care. The nursing home industry depends on qualified graduates from the state's LPN program, which also serves as a career ladder toward becoming a registered nurse."
According to the Connecticut Department of Labor, there are more than 300 openings for LPNs each year; jobs that often offer an average annual salary of over $50,000. The LPN program at a state technical high school costs each student about $5,000. Attending a private licensed practical nurse education program would cost a student about seven times as much, a price that many of the students would be unable to afford.