AACN Concerned That the President's FY 2009 Budget Request Will Prolong the Nursing and Nurse Faculty Shortage

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

Feb 04, 2008, 00:00 ET from American Association of Colleges of Nursing

    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

SOURCE American Association of Colleges of Nursing