Joyce, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Address Nursing Faculty Shortage

Jan 22, 2024
Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives David Joyce (R-OH-14), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-01), Jennifer Kiggans (R-VA-02), and Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) recently introduced H.R. 7002, the Nurse Faculty Shortage Reduction Act, to help address the faculty shortages at nursing schools across the country by establishing a pilot program to augment wages for nurse educators and support efforts to recruit and retain faculty.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 91,000 qualified applications from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2021 – in large part because of an insufficient number of faculty. One of the primary reasons for the faculty shortage is the pay disparity between practicing nurses and nurse educators. The median salary across advanced practice registered nurses is $120,000, but the average salary for a master’s-prepared professor in schools of nursing is $87,325.

The Nurse Faculty Shortage Reduction Act would create a grant program to help close this pay gap between clinical nursing and nurse faculty roles. Priority will be given to programs that serve vulnerable populations and recruit and retain faculty from underrepresented backgrounds.

“The U.S. is facing substantial nursing shortages across the country, jeopardizing patient care and putting a strain on our healthcare system. One major factor is the shortage of nursing faculty tasked with educating future nurses,” said Congressman Joyce, Co-Chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus. “This bipartisan bill would provide critical funding for resources to address the lack of nurse educators. In doing so, we are investing in the backbone of our healthcare system – our nurses and the educators who shape them.”

“Nursing is a profession that saves and changes lives, but Oregon and too many states across the country don’t have enough nurses,” said Congresswoman Bonamici, Co-Chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus. “There are many qualified people who want to enter this noble profession, but nursing schools don’t have enough faculty to teach them. I’m leading the bipartisan Nurse Faculty Shortage Reduction Act with my colleagues to close the pay gap between nurses who practice in a clinical setting and those who serve as faculty so more people can enter this essential field.”

“As a geriatric nurse practitioner who worked as a primary care provider throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m very aware of the current healthcare worker shortage facing our industry,” said Congresswoman Kiggans, Vice Chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus. “The first step to fixing this nationwide problem is ensuring our educational institutions have the resources and staff they need to educate the next generation of healthcare workers. Our nurse educators deserve adequate compensation for their contribution in solving this problem. I’m proud to join my Nursing Caucus colleagues in introducing this bill and getting us moving in the right direction toward solving America’s healthcare workforce shortage!”

“Nursing shortages across the country are affecting the quality of care that patients receive and jeopardizing public health. Nurses bring unique expertise and leadership to the communities they serve, and we must make the right investments to expand the training pipeline for these health care professionals,” said Congresswoman Underwood, Vice Chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus. “I’m proud to co-lead this legislation to close the pay gap between nurse educators and clinical nurses and encourage nursing schools to invest in students. By investing in future generations of nurses, we can grow the nursing workforce, lower health care costs, and drive better health outcomes for Illinois families.”

This legislation is endorsed by the American Nurses Association and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

“Addressing the pay disparity between nursing school faculty and acute care nurses is necessary to train the next generation of nurses,” said President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. “It will encourage nurse leaders to pursue faculty positions and, in turn, help fill essential nursing positions. Sustaining a robust nursing workforce should be prioritized and the American Nurses Association applauds Representatives Bonamici and Joyce for agreeing to co-lead the bill and taking this step to reduce the pay gap between clinical and faculty positions.”

“AACN has identified the shortage of faculty as a crucial barrier to meeting the nation’s nursing workforce needs. Without enough faculty to prepare new nurses, the ability of schools to graduate the number of nurses needed in our healthcare system will fall short,” said Dr. Cynthia McCurren, Chair of the AACN Board of Directors. “AACN applauds the cosponsors for advancing an effective strategy for meeting a critical national need.”

“Nurses are often discouraged from teaching since salaries in the clinical settings are typically higher,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer. “We applaud Representatives Bonamici and Joyce for introducing this legislation, which will provide a new incentive for nurses to pursue careers in academia and help to ease the nursing shortage.”

The full text of the bill can be found here.

Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).

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