1. Ulmer, Deb MSN, RN, CGRN

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The Nurse Reinvestment Act

For the fiscal year 2002, here's a funding message to Congress: We need legislators to invest in the nursing profession! Money talks and the action of Congress will speak louder than empty words. Nurses need the United States government to alleviate the pressures that are driving people out of nursing and assist in attracting more young people to choose nursing as a career. We need this help not only for the safety and well being of the American public, but for the survival of nursing as a profession.


It has been said that knowledge is power. All politically savvy nurse need to do their homework! Your assignment as a nursing professional is to understand and promote the Nurse Reinvestment Act ( H.R. 1436. S. 706) and the Nursing Employment and Education Development Act ( NEED, S. 721). Practicing nurses live and breathe the nursing shortage because this shortage of registered nurses poses a real threat to the nation's healthcare system.


Registered nurses are the largest single group of healthcare professionals in the United States. Concerns about the current nursing shortage underscore the fact that having a sufficient number of qualified nursed is critical to the nation's healthcare system. The events of September 11, 2001, alone support the need for passage of these bills to help bring about the change we need as a profession.


Projections show that the current shortages are just a minor indication of the systemic shortages that will soon confront our healthcare delivery system. It is important to realize the causes of the nursing shortage, and therefore the answers, are complex and interrelated. It is critical to examine issues in education, health delivery systems, and the work environment. There is no single cure to what ails nursing.


The Nurse Reinvestment Act ( H.R. 1436, S. 706) and Nursing Education and Employment Act ( S. 721) are potential "cures" for our current issues in nursing. Both legislative pieces address the nursing crisis by promoting and supporting our profession in the following ways:


1. Scholarship and loan repayment: 85% repayment loans for nurses who agree to service in nursing shortage areas


2. Career ladder programs for RNs (eg., progression to advance practice nursing roles)


3. Public service announcements to promote nursing as a career


4. Support for nursing facility development


5. Development of nursing curricula (e.g., informatics and technology education.)



No effort to address the nursing shortage will be successful unless work environment, wages, and professional respect exists. The elimination of the use of mandatory overtime as a staffing tool and requirement of the use of valid and reliable staffing methodologies must also be obtained with these nurse education bills. Conversely, efforts to educate new nurses will be fruitless unless we first address the problems that are driving experienced nurses away from the profession. So do your homework, nurses! Educate your legislators and your colleagues on the Nurse Reinvestment Act and the Nursing Employment and Education Development Act. For more information about The Nurse Reinvestment Act and Nursing Employment and Education Development Act, visit



The author thanks the nurses of New York during this national crisis. I am proud to share the role of nurse with you. My heart and prayers go out to all of you.