As the nation commemorates the 50th anniversary on Sept. 4 of the historic Nurse Training Act (Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act) aimed at educating, recruiting and retaining RNs, ANA is advocating a multi-pronged plan to ensure a sufficient number of nurses. Demand for health care services is growing largely due to aging Baby Boomers and health care reforms that increase access to care, transform the system to pay for quality, and increase the focus on prevention and primary care services.
"We're seeing mixed signals today in the nurse employment market. There have been layoffs by some hospitals at the same time that ‘registered nurse' ranks as the most advertised position nationwide," said ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. "But it would be a big mistake to ignore the reality of an aging population coupled with a graying nursing workforce. It is essential that we take common sense actions to plan for and invest in the next generations of nurses. Demand for care is going to grow and nurses are going to retire in droves, so we have to prepare now to meet future needs."
ANA's recommendations include:
- Increasing federal funding for Title VIII, a program that has seen an average 2 percent funding decrease over the last four years despite growing demand for RNs and shortages in some areas. ANA advocates an increase of 12 percent for 2015.
- Bolstering nursing education by developing and recruiting more nursing professors and ensuring an adequate number of clinical training sites for nursing students. To meet the needs for new nurses, nursing schools must increase capacity and replace an aging faculty workforce, and increase incentives to teach the next generation of RNs. About 80,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing programs in 2012, largely due to a shortage of faculty. A 2013 survey showed that 72 percent of faculty holding full-time teaching positions was over 50 years old, portending a large wave of pending retirements. And nursing faculty salaries generally are lower than what many nurses with advanced degrees could earn in clinical practice. Additionally, securing an adequate number of clinical training sites is an essential part of nursing education. A June 2014 report found that most nursing school deans believe a shortage of sites is a problem.
- Highlighting the importance of the transition from education to practice for the nursing workforce. With so many RNs nearing retirement age, forward-thinking hospitals and other employers should hire new nursing graduates now to learn from experienced RNs.
By a wide margin, "registered nurse" ranks first among all occupations requiring an associate or baccalaureate degree for entry in the projected number of annual job openings through 2022. ANA is focusing efforts this month as Title VIII turns 50 on ensuring that policy makers recognize the employment demands and actions needed to develop a sufficient workforce.
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ANA is the only full-service professional organization representing the interests of the nation's 3.1 million registered nurses through its constituent and state nurses associations and its organizational affiliates. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the rights of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Congress and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.
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