Letter from nursing community to Representative McCarthy thanking her for introducing The Increasing Opportunities for Nurses and Nurse Faculty Act of 2007

September 21, 2007

The Honorable Carolyn McCarthy
The U.S. House of Representatives
106 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative McCarthy:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, thank you for introducing The Increasing Opportunities for Nurses and Nurse Faculty Act of 2007 (H.R.3597). Given the current and pending nursing shortage, we commend your efforts to address the barriers that inhibit nursing schools from increasing student capacity.

As evidenced by the rapid growth in nursing school enrollments, national attention to the nursing shortage has piqued the interest of thousands of men and women across the country. However, nursing schools are struggling to overcome a variety of barriers that preclude them from further expanding student capacity and increasing the pipeline of Registered Nurses (RNs). Given the high demand for RNs, each year thousands of qualified nursing student applicants are shocked to find they have been denied the opportunity to pursue a nursing education. These potential nursing students are being turned away due to an insufficient number of faculty, admission seats, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints in U.S. nursing schools. Ultimately, these obstacles make it difficult to alleviate the nursing shortage.

During the 1970s, our country’s health care delivery system was facing a similar national nursing shortage. To address this issue, Congress provided Capitation Grants to schools of nursing in support of nursing education from 1971 to 1978. Capitation Grants were successful in reversing the shortage. In fact, a January 1974 Institute of Medicine cost study endorsed Capitation Grants as an appropriate federal undertaking to provide a stable source of financial support for nursing and other health profession schools. Just as in the past, today’s schools of nursing need additional resources, particularly nurse faculty, to educate the next generation of nurses. By establishing Capitation Grants, your bill would address many of the reasons schools of nursing are forced to turn away thousands of qualified applicants each year. These formula-based grants consider the number of students who have matriculated through the nursing program and award funding to expand the number of faculty as well as the school’s facilities.

The Increasing Opportunities for Nurses and Nurse Faculty Act of 2007 offers schools of nursing financial resources to edge closer to meeting the nation’s growing nursing workforce demands. Moreover, this legislation would improve the quality and safety of our nation’s healthcare delivery system by increasing the supply of highly educated nurses who deliver vital patient care services. We applaud you for your efforts to create a solution that provides financial relief for the institutions that are actively working to increase the number of nurses and nurse educators.

Sincerely,

American Academy of Nursing
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
American Nephrology Nurses' Association
American Nurses Association
American Organization of Nurse Executives
Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Emergency Nurses Association
National League for Nursing