ANA urges Congress to significantly increase funding for the Nursing Workforce Development Programs contained in Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act. This investment is needed to address the growing shortage of registered nurses.
The Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development programs administered by HRSA are the primary source of Federal funding for nursing education. Title VIII was expanded and improved by the Nurse Reinvestment Act. The major grant programs areas are:
Advanced Education Nursing—Provides grants to nursing schools, academic health centers, and other entities to enhance education and practice for nurses in master’s and post-master’s programs. These programs prepare nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, nurse educators, nurse administrators, and public health nurses.
Workforce Diversity Grants—Provides grants to increase opportunities for individuals who are from disadvantaged backgrounds, including students from economically disadvantaged families as well as racial and ethnic minorities underrepresented in the nursing profession.
Nurse Education, Practice, and Retention Grants—Supports schools and nurses at the associate and baccalaureate degree level. Grants are provided to schools of nursing, academic health centers, nursing centers, state and local governments and other public or private nonprofit entities. Some grants (such as grants promoting the Magnet Hospital best practices for nursing administration) are also available to health care facilities.
National Nurse Service Corps—The Nurse Education Loan Repayment Program repays 60 to 85 percent of nursing student loans in return for at least two years of practice in a facility designated to have a critical shortage of nurses. The Nursing Scholarship Program supports students enrolled in nursing school. Upon graduation, scholarship recipients are required to work full-time for at least two years in a facility designated to have a critical shortage of nurses.
Nurse Faculty Loan Program—Establishes loan programs within schools of nursing to support students pursuing masters and doctoral degrees. Upon graduation, loan recipients are required to teach at a school of nursing in exchange for cancellation of up to 85 percent of their educational loans, plus interest, over four years.
Comprehensive Geriatric Education Grants—Provides grants to train nurses who provide direct care for the elderly, to support geriatric nursing curriculum, to train faculty in geriatrics, and to provide continuing education to nurses who provide geriatric care.
The growing nursing shortage is impacting every aspect of the U.S. health care delivery system and contributing to diminished patient care. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that registered nursing will have the greatest job growth of all U.S. professions in the time period spanning 2006–2016. HRSA projects that, absent aggressive intervention, in the year 2020 the shortage will grow to more than 1 million RNs – representing a shortage of 36 percent. Title VIII holds the promise of addressing many of the challenges facing nursing. But, this promise can not be met without a significant increase in funding for HRSA’s Nursing Workforce Development programs.