WASHINGTON, DC – This week, Reps. Dave Joyce (OH-14) and Haley Stevens (MI-11) introduced the Stop Nurse Shortages Act. This bipartisan legislation aims to address the national nurse shortage by authorizing a $10 million per year grant program to help nursing schools create, expand, or support an accelerated nursing degree program. It is endorsed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics currently projects 194,500 average annual openings for registered nurses (RNs) between 2021 and 2031. In 2020, the average age for RNs was 52 years old with more than 20% planning to retire within the next five years. Last year, U.S. nursing schools turned away 91,938 qualified applications from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints. A total of 1,965 faculty vacancies were identified in a survey of 935 nursing schools with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs across the country.
“The bottom line is that any challenge facing our nation’s nurses hurts the health and wellbeing of the American people,” said Rep. Joyce, Co-Chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus. “If we don’t come together to fight the ongoing nursing shortage, America’s patient population will pay the price. That’s why I’m proud to reach across the aisle to introduce the Stop Nurse Shortages Act. We must ensure that those who are interested in pursuing a career in nursing have access to the high-quality education and training opportunities necessary to do so. This bipartisan bill does just that.”
“Nurses are heroes. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they have selflessly served on the frontlines, ensuring patients receive the care they deserve. We need more of these heroes,” said Rep. Haley Stevens. “Unfortunately, retirement, pandemic-related burnout, and other factors have caused many nurses to leave the workforce, exacerbating the nurse shortage in the United States. The Stop Nurse Shortages Act tackles this issue by providing resources to create and expand accelerated nursing programs, removing barriers for entry for those with undergraduate degrees in other disciplines who are interested in entering the nursing field. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that fights the national nurse shortage, supports our current health care providers, and inspires future ones.”
“Accelerated programs provide an efficient pathway to preparing new registered nurses in both baccalaureate and master’s programs,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer. “By increasing federal support for these programs, Congress can make a real difference in addressing the nursing shortage by increasing the number of well-qualified nurses available to provide care and keep patients safe.”
“As a leader in educating the frontline nurses of tomorrow, the Kent State University College of Nursing supports this legislation as an efficient and effective way to increase the nursing workforce by supporting accelerated students and increasing the number of available faculty,” said Kent State University College of Nursing Dean Versie Johnson-Mallard.
Accelerated nursing programs, which allow individuals with previous undergraduate degrees in non-nursing fields to fast-track programmatic objectives while maintaining the same number of clinical hours as their counterparts in traditional nursing programs, can help America’s health care sector secure a sufficient supply of qualified RNs. The Stop Nurse Shortages Act will provide grants to schools offering these programs to help them hire and retain faculty and preceptors, increase the number of clinical training sites, and offer financial assistance to students. You can read the bill text here.
Recently, on August 31, Joyce attended a nursing roundtable at Kent State Geauga to meet with university administrators and teachers, industry leaders, and nursing students to discuss the impact the nursing shortage is having here in Ohio.