AACN Pleased that Funding for Nursing Education is Preserved in the President’s FY 2006 Budget Request
For Immediate Release
AACN Pleased that Funding for Nursing Education is Preserved in the
President’s FY 2006 Budget Request
Elimination of Some Health Profession Programs May Limit Access to Care
WASHINGTON, DC, February 8, 2005 - Today, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) announced its support for the $150 million in funding for nursing education included in President Bush’s FY 2006 budget proposal. Though the president called for the elimination of other programs that prepare health professionals, funding for nursing was requested at the current level for Nursing Workforce Development programs (Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act). AACN is concerned, however, that the elimination of the other health professions education programs (Title VII) will severely limit access to health care for underserved populations.
“In a year when many education and health care programs are targeted for elimination, we are pleased to see the president maintaining a focus on addressing the nursing shortage and supporting the nursing workforce,” said AACN President Jean Bartels, PhD, RN. “With three out of every four vacancies in hospitals today calling for registered nurses, it is crucial that Congress preserve, and preferably increase, funding for programs that bring new nurses into the profession and prepare current nurses for advanced clinical, teaching and research roles.”
Though funding for nursing would be maintained, AACN is concerned that the Nurse Faculty Loan Program is still not adequately funded. This loan repayment program was created through the Nurse Reinvestment Act of 2002 to increase the supply of nurse educators. According to AACN’s latest data, 32,797 qualified students were turned away from baccalaureate and graduate level nursing programs last year due primarily to insufficient numbers of faculty. Over 75 percent of schools surveyed cited the faculty shortage as the primary barrier to increasing enrollment.
“At a time when nursing schools are being pressed to produce more graduates while maintaining quality standards, turning away qualified applicants is unthinkable given this nation’s health care needs,” added Dr. Bartels. “Legislators must make funding graduate level nursing education a top priority to alleviate the dire need for educators to prepare nurses at all levels.”
AACN is disappointed to see only slight increases or funding cuts for agencies and programs focused on improving patient safety and maintaining access to care. The FY 2006 budget request includes essentially level funding for both the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), two agencies focused on improving health care quality and patient outcomes. The new budget proposal also calls for a 3 percent decrease in funding for the National Health Services Corps which provides scholarships for health care providers who agree to work in underserved rural and urban areas.
Further, the President’s proposed elimination of programs that support the other health professions, including medicine and allied health, will further limit the availability of health care providers. “AACN is shocked to see dramatic cuts to programs that support the health care workforce and is concerned that this action will diminish access to care and deny services to vulnerable populations,” said Dr. Bartels.
Specific funding levels for nursing education programs that were proposed in the President’s FY 2006 budget are listed on AACN’s Web site at government-affairs/FY2006Chart.pdf.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing is the national voice for university and four-year-college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 580 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide, AACN's educational, research, governmental advocacy, data collection, publications, and other programs work to establish quality standards for bachelor's- and graduate-degree nursing education, assist deans and directors to implement those standards, influence the nursing profession to improve health care, and promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice.
Robert Rosseter, 202-463-6930, ext. 231