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Uncle Sam: "I want you (to be a nurse)!". (News Notes).

Clearly obvious in the halls of long-term care facilities, the nation's nursing crisis is now making itself felt in the chambers of Capitol Hill. Congress has passed--and President Bush has signed-the Nurse Reinvestment Act, designed to improve the recruitment, retention and education of nursing staff.

According to Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), a registered nurse who introduced the original legislation in the House, the act will provide scholarships for nursing students in exchange for two years of service in geographic areas with staffing shortages. Long-term care providers are designated as "pay back" sites at which nurses can meet this requirement, according to American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) Senior Vice-President Suzanne Weiss. The passed legislation also establishes comprehensive geriatric training grants for nurses; offers grants to nursing schools for faculty loan programs; institutes career ladder programs (Weiss says CNAs and home health aides are eligible); creates nurse retention and patient safety enhancement grants; and provides for a public service announcement campaign to promote the nursing profession.

"This is a major victory for our nation's healthcare system and for patient care, says Rep. Capps. "With 125,000 nurses needed to fill vacancies right now, this bill could not have come at a better time."

Industry associations have praised Congress's vote and have urged full funding of the effort by congressional appropriations committees.

"As the supply of nursing staff has dramatically dwindled, the overall demand for nursing care has skyrocketed in a manner that threatens the nation's entire healthcare system," says American Health Care Association (AHCA) President and CEO Charles H. Roadman II, MD. "There will be no quick fix, but the enactment and full funding of this legislation will, for the first time, encourage people to seek entry-level nursing jobs and move up to become LPNs and RNs. Additionally, the Nurse Reinvestment Act provides a much-needed focus on geriatric nursing."

For a history of this and similar legislation, see Nursing Homes/Long Term Care Management, December 2001, p. 8.
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Title Annotation:Nurse Reinvestment Act
Author:Edwards, Douglas J.
Publication:Nursing Homes
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2002
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