Business

Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Address Nursing Shortage

February 9, 2017, 11:25 AM HST
* Updated February 9, 11:27 AM
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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a co-chair of the House Nursing Caucus, joined fellow lawmakers in introducing the bipartisan Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (HR 959).

The bipartisan legislation would reauthorize federal funding for nursing workforce and education programs to help grow and support the nursing workforce in the U.S.

“Nurses are the heart of our healthcare system, and one of the fastest growing professions in the United States,” said Rep. Gabbard. “As Hawaiʻi and states across the country face serious nursing shortages, it’s critical we support Title VIII nursing programs that help recruit, train and retain our nurses, especially in our rural and underserved communities. This bill will help ensure that Hawaiʻi’s nurses and future nurses get the support they need to continue to serve our communities across the state.”

“In Hawaiʻi, nurses are the largest licensed healthcare profession and work in all healthcare settings, from hospitals to home health to school nursing, and work in all areas of the state,” said Laura Reichhardt, director of the Hawaiʻi State Center for Nursing. “As the healthcare needs of the state grow, including the increased demand for primary care, extended care, long-term care and geriatric nursing, nurses can serve to meet these changing demands. Educational pathways, tuition support and loan repayment programs for nurses and nurse faculty, and recruitment and retention programs are critical to ensuring that our nursing workforce in Hawaiʻi is adequate and nimble to the needs of our changing healthcare environment.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of registered nurses (RNs) is projected to grow 19% from 2012 to 2022. At the same time, the bureau predicts there will be over 1 million job openings for RNs in 2022 due to the increasing demand for nurses.

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Rep. Gabbard has consistently prioritized Title VIII nursing workforce programs in annual appropriations bills. Administered through the Health Resources and Services Administration, Title VIII programs have supported the recruitment, retention and distribution of highly-educated professionals who comprise our nation’s nursing workforce for more than 50 years.

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Title VIII programs bolster nursing education at all levels, from entry level preparation through graduate study, and provide support for institutions that educate nurses for practice in rural and medically underserved communities. These programs are designed to address specific needs within the nursing workforce and America’s patient population, and are, therefore, a direct investment in the nation’s health.

The legislation is endorsed by the American Nurses Association, the American Association of the Colleges of Nursing, and more than 50 other national nursing organizations.

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