Nursing Workforce Development

Nurses continue to represent the largest group of health care providers whose services are directly linked to quality and cost-effectiveness. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLC) employment projections for 2012-2022, the employment of Registered Nurses (RNs) is projected to grow 19% from 2012 to 2022, with job openings for RNs projected to reach more than one million by 2022.

Increased demand in the coming years will be driven by an aging population. According to the Pew Research Center, an estimated 10,000 people each day are turning 65 years old, a trend that will continue until 2019. As such, the health care workforce will need to grow to keep up with demand for nursing care in traditional acute care settings and the expansion of non-hospital settings such as home and long-term care.

The ANA is currently urging lawmakers to co-sponsor S. 1109/H.R. 959, the bipartisan Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act, which would reauthorize nursing workforce development programs through fiscal year 2020. Title VIII provides the largest source of federal funding for nursing education. These programs are invaluable to institutions that educate registered nurses for practice in rural and medically underserved communities.

Title VIII programs bolster nursing education from entry-level preparation through graduate study. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), between FY 2006 and FY 2012 alone, these programs provided loans, scholarships, and programmatic support to more than 450,000 nursing students and nurses. For five decades, these programs have helped build the supply and distribution of qualified nurses needed in all health care settings.

Major grant programs within Title VIII include:

  • 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 for racial and ethnic minorities underrepresented in the nursing profession.
  • Nurse Education, Practice, and Retention Grants: Supports schools and nurses at the association and baccalaureate degree levels. Grants are provided to schools of nursing, academic health centers, nursing centers, state and local governments, and other public and 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 60-85% of nursing student loans in return for at least two years of practice in a facility designated as having 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 as having a critical shortage of nurses.
  • Nurse Faculty Loan Program: Establishes loan programs within schools of nursing to support students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees. Upon graduation, loan recipients are required to teach at a school of nursing in exchange for cancellation of up to 85% 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.