Report: Increase in State Funds Could Stave Off Nurse Shortage
California will face a shortage of 12,000 full-time registered nurses by 2014 unless more students are admitted to nursing programs and dropout rates are lowered, according to a report released Tuesday by the state legislative analyst, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill's report projects that California by 2014 will need 40,000 additional full-time nurses to treat an aging population but that the number of nurses is expected to grow by only 28,000.
To address the looming nurse shortage, the report called for lawmakers to:
- Award "completion bonuses" to increase nursing school budgets at community colleges that improve graduation rates;
- Provide bonuses of $5,000 per additional graduate to colleges that reduce nursing school dropout rates; and
- Increase the number of educational loan grants offered to attract additional nursing faculty.
The educational loan grants can forgive up to $25,000 in education loans for graduates of nursing programs who go on to teach at a state college or university. The grants were initiated under a budget program last year.
Hill also recommended that colleges and universities should adopt merit-based application procedures to reward nursing applicants for professional experience, language skills and other qualifications.
The report found that only 11,000 out of 28,410 applicants were accepted to a nursing program, despite the shortage.
The report said there likely will be sufficient funding for community college nursing programs by 2011 from Proposition 98 because of lower funding requirements for K-12 education because of lower enrollment (Hecht, Sacramento Bee, 5/30).