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AACN Asked to Testify on Behalf of Nursing Education Before the Democratic National Committee

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Press Release
For Immediate Release

AACN Testimony Focused on the Need to Address the Nurse Faculty Shortages

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 5, 2008 – On Friday, August 1, 2008, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) was invited to testify at the National Platform Hearing of the Democratic National Committee in Columbus, Ohio and share nursing education’s perspective on healthcare reform. AACN was honored by the invitation to present before the Drafting Committee and articulate the direct link between a robust nursing workforce and access to safe, quality, and affordable health care.

“America is well aware of the current nursing shortage and the serious impact it is having on patient safety and access to essential nursing services,” said AACN President Fay Raines. “The public may not know, however, that a shortage of faculty and other capacity barriers in schools of nursing are inhibiting programs from graduating additional highly-educated nurses to meet the growing demand. AACN is grateful to the Democratic National Committee for the opportunity to bring attention to the nurse faculty shortage and the role it plays in the broader nursing shortage.”

AACN was asked to provide testimony on behalf of nursing education following a meeting with AACN Executive Director Polly Bednash and Michael Yaki, the National Platform Director for the Democratic National Committee. At that meeting, Dr. Bednash urged Mr. Yaki to place addressing the nurse faculty shortage high on the Committee’s priority list. She also stressed the need to pass legislation such as the Troop to Nurse Teachers (TNT) Act, which would provide additional faculty to schools of nursing and encourage students to join the military nurse corps. For information about TNT, see http://www.aacn.nche.edu/news/articles/2008/tntact.

The decade-long shortage of Registered Nurses (RNs) is hampering efforts to improve the quality of patient care and the availability of nursing services. Research clearly shows that when too few nurses are available to provide care, patient safety is compromised. A 2007 report by the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research found that the shortage of RNs, in combination with an increased workload, negatively impacts patient mortality and failure to rescue rates.

Despite marked increases in nursing school enrollment and graduations over the last seven years, capacity barriers are preventing schools from accepting more students and fortifying the nursing workforce. Last year AACN reported that 40,285 qualified applicants were turned away from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs. The top reason cited by schools of nursing for not increasing enrollment was a lack of faculty.

“AACN is committed to working with both sides of the aisle to address the nursing and nurse faculty shortages,” added Dr. Raines. “As the Democratic and Republican parties consider future healthcare reform, our association urges them to place an emphasis on increasing the supply of highly educated nurses. AACN believes attention should be paid to alleviating the nursing education crisis given the impact it has on access to reliable health care. Our nation must work now to strengthen and expand existing federal programs, such as Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act, to effectively mitigate this national concern.”

AACN is grateful to Dr. Jeri Milstead from the University of Toledo who presented the testimony at the hearing held last Friday in Ohio. The testimony may be accessed online at www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs/dnctestimony08.pdf. For more information on AACN's legislative efforts to alleviate the nursing shortage, see http://www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs.

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The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for university and four-year college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 670 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. www.aacn.nche.edu.

CONTACT:

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