Schwarzenegger Announces Proposal To Fund Nurse Education Programs
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Wednesday announced a $90 million, five-year initiative to expand nursing education programs in California, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Skidmore, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/14). The plan is modeled after a partnership between Sutter Health and Sacramento City College, in which Sutter provides space for classrooms, instructors and clinical experience at the hospital (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 4/14).
Under the proposal, the state, community colleges and private organizations and health care groups would contribute equal amounts of funding to the program. According to the Union-Tribune, the funds would be used to:
- Increase access to nurse education programs;
- Recruit more qualified instructors;
- Develop "new paths" to nursing through high school and college;
- Encourage schools and hospitals to create joint programs; and
- Appropriate federal funds for education (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/14).
Marshall Drummond, chancellor of California Community Colleges, said he would like to establish four to six partnerships with hospitals by September, with each program costing about $3 million. Over five years, the program is expected to train an additional 4,000 to 6,000 nurses (Contra Costa Times, 4/14).
Administration officials said that the state faces a shortage of 14,000 nurses and that 40% of nursing school applicants are denied admission because classes are full (Martin, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/14). However, California Nurses Association spokesperson Vicki Bermudez said the study from which those figures were taken "is five years old" (Sacramento Bee, 4/14).
Schwarzenegger said that the initiative was not related to the recent legal case over state nurse staffing rules. "I'm passionate about this," he said, adding, "I've been in the hospital, the last eight years, three times and I've seen the kind of work that goes on. You need trained nurses" (Chorneau, Associated Press, 4/14).
Rick Rice, undersecretary of the Labor & Workforce Development Agency, said, "We want to make sure the money we're putting out there is actually going to educate nurses and bring them to licensure rather than flinging money down a rat hole" (Sacramento Bee, 4/14).
CNA officials said they support the expansion of nurse education programs. However, CNA supports a bill that would provide nursing programs $45 million over two years, rather than Schwarzenegger's proposal.
CNA President Deborah Burger said that Schwarzenegger's proposal "is still missing the mark" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/14). She added, "You can put billions into nursing schools, but if you don't improve the working conditions, nurses won't stay" (Associated Press, 4/14).
Bermudez said, "On the one hand, [the governor is] talking about identifying funds for nursing education," she said, adding that Schwarzenegger also is pursuing a court case to delay the implementation of state nurse staffing rules. She said, "He doesn't understand that the ratios have attracted huge numbers of nurses, that (the court case) is the wrong thing to do" (Contra Costa Times, 4/14).
KQED's "The California Report" on Thursday is scheduled to include a report on Schwarzenegger's nurse education proposal (Myers, "The California Report," KQED, 4/14). The complete segment will be available online after the broadcast.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.