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AACN Concerned That the President's FY 2009 Budget Request Will Prolong the Nursing and Nurse Faculty Shortage
Date:2/4/2008

Targeted cuts of $46 million to the Nursing Workforce Development Programs will stifle nursing school's efforts to educate more graduate-level nurses and faculty

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) expressed its concern that proposed cuts to nursing education programs contained in President Bush's FY 2009 budget request would reverse the progress made by federal legislators to address the nation's nursing shortage. Despite the proposed increases to most Nursing Workforce Development Programs (Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act [PSA]), the President's budget would reduce funding levels by $46.2 million from the previous year.

Last year, the President requested a 30% reduction in funding for Nursing Workforce Development Programs, which included the elimination of the Advanced Education Nursing (AEN) grants. However, Congress recognized the dire need to sustain Title VIII programs and boosted the funding level from $149.7 million in FY 2007 to $156.05 million in FY 2008. Congress also demonstrated their understanding of the nurse faculty shortage as they appropriated additional funds to the two Title VIII programs dedicated to preparing future nurse educators. AACN's more than 620 member institutions truly appreciate the commitment Congress has made to supporting nursing education and particularly the preparation of nurse faculty.

For FY 2009, the President again has proposed a reduction to the funding allocation for Title VIII by 30%. This is a $46.2 million decrease from FY 2008. Similar to last year, the President is calling for the elimination of AEN grants, which provided individual traineeships and programmatic support to 13,877 graduate nursing students in FY 2006. AEN grants support programs that prepare graduate-level nurses to be primary care providers such as nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists, as well as nurse faculty. Given the unprecedented nurse faculty shortage and the documented need for primary care providers in the U.S., AACN is perplexed and disheartened by the President's decision. However, AACN was pleased to see that the President increased funding for the Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) by $1.46 million over last year's level. Citing AACN's data in the justification for this funding increase, the President noted that the "increase in school participation and supported students [in the NFLP program] and the steady increase in graduate program enrollment and graduation demonstrate NFLP success." For more information on the Administration's justification for the FY 2009 budget proposal impacting Title VIII programs, see ftp://ftp.hrsa.gov/about/budgetjustification09.pdf

"Without increased federal funding for nursing education, schools nationwide will continue to struggle and be unable to increase the student capacity needed to meet the growing demand for professional nurses," said AACN President Jeanette Lancaster. "Nursing colleges and universities rely on the federal support provided through Title VIII to educate new nurses and future faculty. All of the progress Congress has made to strengthen the nursing workforce and support faculty preparation would be in jeopardy if funding for these programs was cut sharply."

Nationwide attention to the nursing shortage has sparked the interest of thousands of men and women across the country to pursue a nursing career. However, schools of nursing simply cannot accommodate the rising student demand. In 2006, AACN found that 42,866 qualified applicants were turned away from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs due primarily to a lack of nurse educators. A limited supply of students enrolled in graduate programs, coupled with an expected wave of faculty retirements, place additional strain on the diminishing faculty population.

In addition to nursing education cuts, the President's budget is calling for a complete elimination of funding for the Health Professions Education Programs (Title VII of the PSA), which would endanger the nation's ability to provide necessary health care services, especially to vulnerable populations. Cutting programs that support the preparation of physicians, pharmacists and other health professionals will likely limit the nation's supply of health care providers and add to the growing issue of health disparities and access to quality health care.

AACN is also concerned that the President has decided to level fund the National Institutes of Health, which includes the National Institute of Nursing Research. Additionally, AACN is alarmed that the President has decided to cut funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality by 3%.

"AACN is committed to working with Congress and other stakeholders to restore and hopefully increase funding for federal programs that support the preparation of nurse educators," said Dr. Lancaster. "Legislators must continue to make funding graduate level nursing education a top priority and invest in a long-term strategy to enable nursing schools to expand student capacity and accommodate all qualified applicants."

Specific funding levels for nursing education programs that were proposed in the President's FY 2009 budget are listed on AACN's Web site at http://www.aacn.nche.edu/Government/FY2008Chart.pdf


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SOURCE American Association of Colleges of Nursing
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