Nurse Workforce Development

Nurse Workforce Development

The “Nurse Reinvestment Act” (NRA), designed to address the current and expected nursing shortage, was signed into law on August 1, 2002.  A few years ago, the most significant factor associated with the nursing shortage was a lack of interested and qualified applicants.  However, due to the efforts of the nursing and cancer communities, the number of applicants is growing.  Now, the greatest challenge is that the nation faces a serious shortage of faculty available to teach and train new nurses.

  • According to an American Association of Colleges of Nursing report on 2010-2011 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away 67,563 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2010 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints.  Almost two-thirds of the nursing schools responding to the survey pointed to faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into their programs.
  • A serious concern is a study released by the Southern Regional Board of Education (SREB) in February 2002, a serious shortage of nursing faculty was documented in 16 SREB states and the District of Columbia. Survey findings show that the combination of faculty vacancies (432) and newly budgeted positions (350) points to a 12% shortfall in the number of nurse educators needed. Unfilled faculty positions, resignations, projected retirements, and the shortage of students being prepared for the faculty role pose a threat to the nursing education workforce over the next five years.

Oncology nurses are on the front-lines of the provision of quality cancer care and contribute significantly to cancer research.  Each day they utilize highly-specialized skills to coordinate and administer the compassionate, comprehensive, high-quality cancer treatment and supportive care that people with cancer need and deserve.  Specifically, oncology nurses play an essential role in administering chemotherapy, managing patient therapies and side-effects, providing counseling to patients and family members, documenting important information in patient charts, triaging patient questions and problems during the day, as well as during non-business hours, in addition to many other daily acts on behalf of people with cancer and their families.

A recently released study by M.D. Anderson Cancer Center projects that the number of adults 65 and older who will be diagnosed with cancer will rise from 1 million in 2010 to 1.6 million in 2030, a 67% increase.  At the same time, the national nursing shortage is expected to worsen.  With an increasing number of people needing comprehensive cancer care – coupled with an inadequate nursing workforce – our nation could quickly face a cancer care crisis of serious proportion, with limited access to quality care, particularly in traditionally underserved areas.

NCCR Position

In order to address the current and future nursing workforce shortage, NCCR urges Congress to, at a minimum, allocate $251 million to federal nursing workforce development programs to ensure enough resources to fund a higher rate of nursing scholarships and loan repayment applications and to support other essential endeavors to sustain and boost our nation’s nursing workforce.