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AACN Applauds Congress for Passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that Includes Funding for Nursing Education

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Press Release
For Immediate Release

AACN Applauds Congress for Passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that Includes Funding for Nursing Education

$500 Million Will Support Nurses and Other Health Professionals
Over the Next Two Years as a Result of this New Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 13, 2009 – The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) applauds Congressional leaders and our Nursing Champions on Capitol Hill for securing additional funding for nursing education in the newly passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1), which President Obama is expected to sign on Monday, February 16, 2009. Of the $500 million allocated for health professions training in the final stimulus package, $300 million will be awarded to the National Health Service Corps and the remaining $200 million will be divided between the Nursing Workforce Development Programs (Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act) and the Health Professions Training Programs (Title VII). In addition, the conference agreement includes $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health with $7.4 billion being distributed to the Institutes (including the National Institute of Nursing Research), the Centers, and the Common Fund.

“In their work to stimulate the U.S. economy, federal legislators recognized the connection between funding health professions education and preparing a workforce large enough to meet the nation’s healthcare needs,” said AACN President Fay Raines. “Nurse educators are grateful for this infusion of funding, which will help nursing schools battle the financial challenges they are currently facing.”

“The nursing community truly came together as a strong voice to save funding for nursing education,” said Representative Lois Capps, RN (D-CA). “I am proud to have helped my fellow nurses achieve this goal and strengthen the nursing workforce so that all Americans will benefit from the quality health care nurses provide.” Below is Congresswoman Capps’ floor statement in support of the bill.

“The American Recovery Act is about creating jobs,” Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said. “Not only jobs in construction, but jobs in healthcare, jobs in education, and jobs for women. America is facing a nursing shortage that affects every city in every state. If we don’t invest money in educating our healthcare professionals, we won’t be able to increase our healthcare workforce, which is so important for our hospitals and for our patients.”

“The funding for health professions and nursing training included in this legislation ensures that thousands of vacant healthcare positions across the country will be filled,” said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Majority Whip. “More than that, it gives men and women the opportunity to secure meaningful, well-paying jobs where they will work everyday to help prevent illnesses and save lives.”

All three provisions for health professions training will provide an opportunity for nursing students and schools to receive funding. The Nursing Workforce Development Programs support the supply and distribution of qualified nurses to meet our nation’s health care needs. Over the last 45 years, Title VIII programs have addressed each aspect of nursing shortages – education, practice, retention, and recruitment. By investing in these programs, Congress has shown its strong commitment to reversing the national nursing shortage and filling vacant nursing positions.

The provisions authorized under Title VII are the only federally funded programs that support the education and training of individuals across the interdisciplinary healthcare team. Schools of nursing and nursing students benefit from many Title VII programs, such as the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students and the Faculty Loan Repayment Program.

Finally, the National Health Service Corps provides scholarships and loans to nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, primary care physicians, dentists, mental and behavioral health professionals, physician assistants, and dental hygienists.

In November 2008, AACN’s Board of Directors approved the organization’s request to expand AACN’s efforts to secure funding for nursing education in the stimulus package. In this difficult economic time for schools of nursing, the Board recognized this unique opportunity to act now and alleviate current funding concerns for nursing education and increase appropriations for the Nursing Workforce Development programs in fiscal years 2009 and 2010. Reacting to AACN’s call to action, nursing deans, faculty, and students rallied behind the stimulus legislation and sent more than a 1,000 messages through AACN’s online advocacy tool to Congress explaining the importance of supporting nursing education and funding for the Title VIII programs.

“Securing this funding is a tremendous feat for nursing education and a testament to the power of collaboration among nursing organizations,” added Dr. Raines. “AACN is grateful that our membership acted quickly, along with the thousands of nurses across the country, to encourage Members of Congress to include funding for nursing and health professions training in the final bill. Nursing united and prevailed.”

For more details on AACN’s advocacy effort on behalf of nursing education and research, see http://www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs.

Representative Lois Capps’ Floor Statement on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009:

M. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this bill which will reinvest in America’s future… And will create jobs. There are still sectors of our economy that are hiring and one of those is healthcare. I am so proud to see that this bill recognizes that by investing $500 million for training new nurses, physicians and dentists. In 2008, over 27,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing school because we don’t have enough faculty to train them. The programs that will be funded through this bill will help train more faculty and also entry level nursing students so that we can shore up our health care workforce. If we simply continue at the current pace, we will have a shortage of one million nurses by the year 2020. This bill makes an excellent investment to alleviate that shortage and create jobs. I urge my colleagues to vote yes and I yield back.

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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