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AACN Concerned that Recommendations in the President's FY 2008 Budget Request Would Heighten the Nation's Nursing Shortage

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Press Release
For Immediate Release

AACN Concerned that Recommendations in the
President's FY 2008 Budget Request Would Heighten the Nation's Nursing Shortage

Elimination of Funding for Graduate Nursing Education Would
Intensify the Growing Shortage of Nurse Faculty

WASHINGTON, DC, February 9, 2007 - Today, AACN expressed its concern that proposed cuts to nursing education programs contained in President Bush's FY 2008 budget request would reverse the progress made by federal legislators to address the nation's nursing shortage. The President has requested a 30% reduction in funding for Nursing Workforce Development Programs (Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act), which includes the elimination of Advanced Education Nursing Programs. In addition to cuts to nursing education, the President's budget is calling for a steep decrease in funding for Health Professions Education Programs (Title VII) which would endanger the nation's ability to provide necessary health care services, especially to vulnerable populations.

"Though many efforts to address the U.S. nursing shortage are having a positive impact, nursing schools are struggling to further expand student capacity to meet the growing demand for professional nurses," said AACN President Jeanette Lancaster. "Nursing colleges and universities rely on federal support to educate new nurses and future faculty. All of the progress Congress has made to strengthen the nursing workforce and support faculty preparation would be in jeopardy if funding to essential nursing education programs is eliminated or sharply cut."

In the FY 2008 budget proposal, the president is calling for a $44 million decrease in funding for Nursing Workforce Development Programs from $149.7 million to $105.3 million. Specifically, programs funded under Advanced Education Nursing, which provided support to 11,949 graduate nursing students in FY 2005, would be eliminated. Though this action eliminates more than $58 million in grants and traineeships for graduate nursing students and future nurse faculty, the President is calling for a $13 million increase in the Nurse Loan Repayment and Scholarship Programs which are focused on preparing entry-level nurses.

"Nursing schools today are unable to accommodate all qualified students wishing to enter entry-level nursing programs given the pervasive shortage of nurse faculty," added Dr. Lancaster. "Focusing solely on funding the education of new nurses will not work as a effective solution to the nursing shortage since schools are already limited in the number of students they can accept due to an insufficient supply of nurse educators. Congress, instead, should focus on strengthening the nurse faculty population by restoring funding to Advanced Education Nursing Programs which support graduate education while increasing funding for the existing Nurse Faculty Loan Program within Title VIII."

As documented by AACN, nursing schools are struggling to find adequate numbers of teachers to accommodate the rising interest in nursing careers among new students. A limited supply of students enrolled in graduate programs, coupled with an expected wave of faculty retirements, will further constrain the faculty population. Last year alone, AACN found that 42,596 qualified applicants were turned away from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs due primarily to a lack of nurse educators.

Besides nursing education, the President is also calling for a decrease in funding for Health Professions Education Programs from $135 million to $10 million. Cutting programs that support the preparation of physicians, pharmacists and other health professionals will likely limit the nation's supply of health care providers and add to the growing issue of health disparities and access to quality health care.

AACN was pleased to see at least a modest increase for agencies and programs focused on social and biomedical research and on improving patient safety. In FY 2008, the President is calling for a $1 million increase in funding for the National Institute of Nursing Research and an $11.3 million increase for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Overall, the budget for the Department of Health and Human Services would grow by $28 billion, a 4% increase for a total of $698 billion.

"AACN is committed to working with Congress and other stakeholder organizations to restore and hopefully increase funding for federal programs that support the preparation of nurses educators," said Dr. Lancaster. "Legislators must make funding graduate level nursing education a top priority and invest in a long-term strategy to enable nursing schools to expand student capacity and accommodate all qualified applicants."

Specific funding levels for nursing education programs that were proposed in the President's FY 2008 budget are listed on AACN's Web site at http://www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs/archives/2008/FY2008Chart.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 600 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.

 

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CONTACT:

Robert Rosseter, 202-463-6930, ext. 231
rrosseter@aacn.nche.edu