Media Relations

AACN Commends Efforts by Congress to Provide New Funding to Address the Nurse Faculty Shortage

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Press Release
For Immediate Release

AACN Partners with the CDC to Strengthen the Nation’s
Public Health Nursing Workforce
New five-year initiative focuses on nurse faculty development and
experiential learning for nursing students

WASHINGTON, DC, August 2, 2005 – The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) today announced its support for new federal legislation that would effectively address the nation’s serious and growing shortage of nurse educators. Introduced late last week by Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY), Peter King (R-NY), and Lois Capps (D-CA), the Nurse Education, Expansion and Development (NEED) Act (H.R. 3569) would provide funding to nursing schools to overcome obstacles to increasing student capacity. According to AACN’s latest survey, the primary reason nursing schools are unable to enroll more students and better address the nursing shortage is the insufficient supply of qualified nursing faculty.

“AACN applauds Reps. Lowey, King and Capps for taking decisive action to address the underlying causes of the nursing shortage, including the diminishing pool of nurse educators,” said AACN President Jean E. Bartels. “Nursing schools are struggling to increase the number of graduates given the intensifying nursing shortage, but they are hampered in their efforts due to a shortage of faculty and resources.” Last year alone, 32,797 qualified students were turned away from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs due to a lack of qualified faculty.

Through the NEED Act, schools of nursing would receive funding as formula or capitation grants to increase the number of nursing faculty and/or students. These goals could be achieved by hiring new and retaining current faculty, purchasing educational equipment and audiovisual laboratories, enhancing clinical laboratories, or recruiting new students. Grants would be authorized based on the number of students enrolled in programs with different funding allocations for students in baccalaureate degree, associate degree, and diploma nursing programs.

Past capitation grant programs have had a stabilizing effect on nursing shortages by providing schools with the means to increase enrollments. From 1971-1978, Congress provided per capita funding to schools in support of nursing education programs. These capitation grants were non-prescriptive in their demands for use of funding, which allowed nursing schools to direct dollars to areas of greatest need. An Institute of Medicine report released in January 1974 endorsed capitation grant programs as an appropriate federal undertaking to provide a stable source of financial support for nursing and other health profession schools.

“Given the past success of capitation grant programs in resolving nursing shortages in this country, we encourage Congress to act quickly and support the NEED Act as an important next step to address the current health care crisis,” added Dr. Bartels.

For more information on the NEED Act, including a bill summary and the actual bill text, see government-affairs. For an overview of AACN’s legislative strategies related to Nursing Workforce Development programs (Title VIII, Public Health Service Act), see government-affairs/06TitleVIII.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 585 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. Web site:


Robert Rosseter, 202-463-6930, ext. 231