Bush's Budgetary Proposal for the Nursing Workforce is Unacceptable

Careers in Nursing will have the greatest job growth of all professions in the U.S. in the years spanning 2002 through 2012, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. During this ten-year period, health care facilities will need to fill more than 1.1 million RN job openings. And the Human Resources and Services Administration projects that the American RN workforce will fall 29 percent below requirements by the year 2020. Bottom line: there's a national nursing shortage crisis at hand. With these bleak projections one would think the Bush administration would address this crisis by allotting appropriate funding to the development of the nursing workforce. Think again.

The proposed fiscal 2007 budget recently presented by President Bush actually decreases funding by $44 million (or 29 percent). The National League for Nursing reacted with grave concern and believes that this unconscionable decrease of funding is shortsighted and hazardous for the overall health of the nation. One of the primary drivers behind the nursing shortage is the significant shortage of nurse educators. Current nursing faculty is underpaid and typically find that working in the healthcare industry pays much more for those with a Masters in Nursing. Additionally, results from the NLN/Carnegie Foundation survey of Nurse Educators has found that one in five nurse educators said they were likely to retire from paid employment in five years or less and almost one half said they were likely to retire in six 6 to 10 years.

The Bush administration needs to wake up to the fact that the current nursing shortage is a national crisis that is only getting worse. Proposing budgetary cuts to the nursing workforce is not a step in the right direction. Nurses to need to be fearless advocates for increased funding for workforce development if our nation is to meet its future healthcare needs.

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