Hutchinson Discusses Senate Nursing Shortage Bill on NPR
An aging nurse work force "spells big problems as we look toward the future," Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.) said in an interview on NPR's "Morning Edition" today (Edwards, "Morning Edition," NPR, 11/13). On Nov. 1, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved the Nursing Employment and Educational Development Act (S 721) in an effort to "combat" the nation's nursing shortage. Sponsored by Hutchinson and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the legislation would create scholarships for nursing students; establish a nurse recruitment campaign; offer grants to nursing schools to "expand area health education centers"; devise a "career-ladder program" that would encourage those enrolled in nursing programs to seek additional training; and create programs promoting the nursing profession (California Healthline, 11/2). Hutchinson estimated that by 2020, one-fifth of the nation's nursing needs will "go unmet unless we do something to address this shrinking pipeline." When asked by NPR host Bob Edwards why nursing is "not an attractive profession to younger people," Hutchinson responded that many careers are "far more lucrative than nursing with far less stress than nursing," a profession that he says "underpays and overworks." Hutchinson also said that nursing has an "overwhelmingly female" population, but that "women have many, many more opportunities" today and may not choose nursing. Hutchinson agreed with Edwards' suggestion that "cost-conscious managed care health systems" are "certainly a part of" what created the current nursing shortage. Hutchinson added that with reimbursements from Medicaid and Medicare "tightened down so much," hospitals in rural and underserved areas are "having a very difficult time" competing with the higher salaries offered in larger metropolitan areas, to which nurses are "migrating." The full NPR report will be available in RealAudio online after noon ET (Edwards, "Morning Edition," NPR, 11/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.