Nursing Education to Receive Influx of Federal Funds

Schools of nursing, nursing students, nurses, and eventually patients — particularly those in underserved areas — stand to benefit from an influx of funds allocated in President Obama’s recently passed economic stimulus bill. The legislation, which provides funding for nurse training and education, was supported by a nursing coalition that included the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes some $500 million for education and training of health professionals. Nursing groups are asking for at least $100 million to go to the federal Nursing Workforce Development Programs, which offer loan repayments for nurses who work in underserved areas or teach in nursing schools; grants for advanced-degree nursing programs; and grants for students from underrepresented minorities in nursing.

The stimulus funds will come in addition to $171 million allocated to the nursing programs as part of the omnibus spending bill signed March 11. "Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system,” wrote U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), who supported the funding, in response to e-mail questions from Nursing Spectrum and NurseWeek. “But America is facing an ongoing shortage of nurses, and it is only getting worse. Increasing our nursing workforce is essential for our hospitals and patients.”

The government has until mid-May to decide how stimulus funds for healthcare workforce training will be allocated among the various programs. Based on language in the bill, nursing groups expect some funds to go to three Nursing Workforce Development Programs:

• The Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program, which repays up to 85% of loans for nurses who work in hospitals in designated shortage areas;

• The Nurse Faculty Loan Program, which offers loan repayment and scholarships to those who agree to teach in a school of nursing for four years; Read whole article here

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