Advocates Discuss Nursing Shortage at Senate Hearing
At a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing yesterday, nursing advocates said that efforts to improve nurses' working conditions and prevent them from leaving the profession will help stem the nursing shortage, CongressDaily/AM reports. Gerald Shea of the AFL-CIO said, "We must challenge the notion that the principal problem is an inadequate supply of nurses, and make sure we pay sufficient attention to the poor working conditions that drive nurses out of the hospital setting." Julie Sochalski of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing added, "Solutions that are focused on strategies to recruit more nurses will not ameliorate the problem in the long run if equal attention is not paid to strategies to retain the current and future workforce, through changes in the workplace that nurses have a prominent role in designing" (Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 5/18). Meanwhile, efforts to increase nursing school enrollment continue. Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Mary Bono (R-Calif.) yesterday introduced a bill (HR 1897) that would assist those attending nursing school with grants, tax credits and additional training (Engel release, 5/17). Health, Education, Labor and Pensions chair Jim Jeffords (R-Vt.) and Aging Subcommittee chair Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.) have introduced bills authorizing more funding for nurse training and recruitment. And Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ranking member Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) is working with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) on another bill that would ban mandatory overtime for nurses (CongressDaily/AM, 5/18).