House, Senate Pass Legislation To Address Nursing Shortage
Following months of negotiations, both the House and Senate yesterday passed legislation that would establish scholarships and other programs to address the nation's nursing shortage, the AP/Boston Globe reports (AP/Boston Globe, 7/22). The Nurse Reinvestment Act, (HR 3487) or
(S 1864), would establish a National Nurse Service Corps to provide scholarships and loans to nursing students who agree to serve in a hospital with a critical shortage of nurses for two years (California Healthline, 7/22). The legislation also includes a loan cancellation incentive for nurses who receive master's or doctoral degrees to teach at nursing schools. It offers nurses continuing education and geriatric training and "career ladder" programs for job advancement, as well as internship and mentor programs to "fill the void created by experienced nurses leaving the profession" (Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.) release, 7/22). Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), who is a registered nurse, said the Nurse Reinvestment Act "will encourage more people to enter the nursing profession and offer important initiatives to keep nurses in the field for longer periods of time." The measure does not appropriate any funding for the programs, so lawmakers will have to come up with money separately, the AP/Globe reports. The bill now goes to President Bush for consideration (AP/Boston Globe, 7/22).