FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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PACE UNIVERSITY’S DEAN OF NURSING ADDRESSES CONGRESS ON NATIONWIDE SHORTAGE OF REGISTERED NURSES
Testimony presented before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education
PLEASANTVILLE, NY, April 21, 2005 – Today Harriet Feldman, Dean and Professor of the Lienhard School of Nursing at Pace University, located in Westchester County and New York City, New York, addressed the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education on the nationwide shortage of registered nurses and the underlying shortage of nurse faculty.
Speaking on behalf of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), Feldman’s testimony echoed AACN’s recommendations for increased funding to existing nursing education programs. Budget increases for the Nursing Workforce Development Programs may also boost pre-doctoral, doctoral, and post-doctoral education for nurses nationwide. Feldman’s testimony also presented solutions to growing problems associated with the Nurse Education, Expansion, and Development Act (NEED Act), sponsored by Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Lois Capps (D-CA).
She noted that a bleak budget situation for health and education programs could lead to increased problems in the future. “Without a sufficient number of registered nurses, patient safety is compromised,” Feldman said.
Citing figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Feldman said that the US will need an additional 1.1 million new and replacement registered nurses by 2012. “Nursing is the fastest growing occupation, yet according to the Health Resources and Services Administration our nation will still be roughly 800,000 nurses short in 2020 unless there is a significant and sustained increase in the number of nurses graduating each year and entering the workforce,” Feldman said.
“At Pace University our enrollments are higher than the national average,” Feldman continued. “For example, our fall 2004 enrollments were increased over the prior fall by 35%; this spring we enrolled 36% more students, 109 people, than we did in spring 2004. It is still not enough since some sources claim that we must increase enrollments by at least 40% annually to be effective.”
She explained that without enough qualified applicants for vacant faculty positions, it is impossible to accept additional students into nursing programs. “Compounding the shrinking pool of eligible faculty candidates is an aging nursing faculty, noncompetitive faculty salaries, and budget pressures within individual academic institutions,” Feldman said.
Statistics covered in Feldman’s testimony include:
• AACN reported that in fall 2004, almost 33,000 qualified applicants to nursing undergraduate and graduate programs were turned away, nearly double those of the prior fall. In the US there are approximately 1,500 schools of nursing, all working to expand enrollments, most without sufficient faculty to educate the growing numbers of students.
• AACN estimates that if the current faculty vacancy rate holds steady, the deficit of nurse faculty will swell to over 2,600 unfilled positions in 2012.
Possible solutions in Feldman’s testimony include:
• Budget increases. Feldman proposes a budget increase of $25 million for 2006 (bringing the total to $175 million) for the Nursing Workforce Development Programs.
• Additional funding for the Nurse Faculty Loan Program. The Nurse Faculty Loan Program provides grants to colleges of nursing to support full-time master’s and doctoral nursing students—future nurse faculty. Up to 85% of these students’ educational loans may be cancelled over a 4-year period if they agree to teach at a school of nursing. If funding doubles to almost $10 million, colleges of nursing could educate over 800 future faculty who could, in turn, educate over 8,000 future nurses each year.
• Approval of the NEED Act. The NEED Act is a capitation grant program for schools of nursing sponsored by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) that would provide accredited schools of nursing with a fixed dollar amount for each enrolled student.
Feldman’s complete oral testimony is available on the AACN Web site at http://www.aacn.nche.edu/Government/Testimony/Feldman.htm.
For more information on AACN’s legislative strategies related to Nursing Workforce Development programs, see http://www.aacn.nche.edu/Government/Docs/TitleVIIIFY06.DOC.
Set within culturally diverse urban and suburban settings, Pace University’s Lienhard School of Nursing (LSN) is committed to innovation and excellence in education, research, and practice in primary health care. With more than 600 students enrolled in baccalaureate and master’s degree programs, all approved by the New York State Education Department and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, LSN partners with communities to foster human growth and dignity and provide primary care. The School of Nursing is devoted to preparing individuals, families, and communities at local, national, and international levels, to meet health care demands now and in the future.
A private university in the New York Metropolitan area, Pace has a growing national reputation for offering students opportunity, teaching and learning based on research, civic involvement and measurable outcomes. Pace has seven campuses, including downtown and midtown New York City, Pleasantville, Briarcliff, White Plains (a graduate center and law school), and a Hudson Valley Center at Stewart International Airport near Newburgh, N.Y. Approximately 14,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lubin School of Business, School of Computer Science and Information Systems, School of Education, Lienhard School of Nursing and Pace Law School. For inquiries about the nursing programs at Pace, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (914) 773-3552. www.pace.edu