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Council Calls on White House to Convene Conference on Physician and Nurse Supply

30% Increase in Physician and Nurse Training Needed, Experts Say

PHILADELPHIA, March 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The Council on Physician and Nurse Supply, an independent group of healthcare leaders based at the University of Pennsylvania, has called on the White House to convene a special conference to address the national shortage of physicians and nurses.

"Access to healthcare services cannot be maintained, let alone expanded, unless we educate more nurses and physicians," notes Linda Aiken, Ph.D., professor of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and co-chair of the Council. "The shortage of nurses and physicians is a serious matter that should be addressed at the highest levels."

Meeting at the University of Pennsylvania in late February, the Council determined that 30,000 additional nurses should be graduated annually to address projected shortages, a 30 percent increase over the current number of annual nurse graduates.

The Council noted that quality of care is higher at hospitals that have a relatively higher percentage of nurses who hold bachelor's of science (BSN) degrees in nursing. In addition, the BSN degree is a prerequisite for graduate study for advanced practice nurses and nurse faculty. More nurse faculty are needed to expand nurse supply, as over 30,000 qualified applicants to BSN programs were turned away in 2006, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, largely due to an insufficient number of faculty. The Council therefore recommended increased public financing at the BSN level, in order to increase the number of nurses who can proceed to graduate education and qualify to teach or to practice at an advanced level.

The Council also noted that the United States is in the throes of a deepening physician shortage, and will experience a shortfall of 100,000 to 200,000 physicians over the next 15 years. Closing this gap will require an expansion of both medical schools and graduate medical education (GME) positions at the nation's teaching hospitals. The Council also called for GME capacity to be increased by approximately 30 percent. The Council warned that lifting the current cap Congress has imposed on Medicare-based funding for GME, while necessary, will not be enough. Growth in GME, the Council determined, should be addressed within the context of a comprehensive reassessment of the respective funding roles of government and the private sector.

"We must rethink how this country educates nurses and doctors to ensure we have the health professionals we need," maintains Richard "Buz" Cooper, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and co-chair of the Council. "Our access to healthcare -- and our children's access -- depends on what we do today to solve this critical challenge."

About the Council on Physician and Nurse Supply

The Council on Physician and Nurse Supply is an independent, multi-disciplinary group dedicated to studying trends in the demand for physicians and nurses and to proposing ways to better align training capacity with the nation's needs. It is based at the University of Pennsylvania's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Care Economics. Funding for the Council is provided by AMN Healthcare, the nation's largest healthcare staffing company, headquartered in San Diego, CA.

SOURCE Council on Physician and Nurse Supply
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