1. Alexander, Mary MA, RN, CRNI

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The Bush Administration's fiscal 2008 budget has proposed drastic cuts in an essential program that sustains nursing faculties and holds the nursing shortage at bay. The Nursing Workforce Development Programs (Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act), which provides federal funding to support nursing education, is threatened with a 30% reduction in funding. Plans are to eliminate the current $57 million for the Advanced Nursing Education Program and add $13 million to the Nurse Education Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program. The total appropriation for nursing programs in the 2008 budget is $105.3 million. For the last 3 years, nursing programs have been flat-lined funded at $150 million. Allowing for inflation, today's proposed funding is one quarter of what the federal government spent in 1974. The rationale for the cuts is that there will be an increased investment in the recruitment of new nurses through the increase to the loan repayment and scholarship programs, but the reality is that there will be a significant reduction in nursing faculty.1

Figure. Mary Alexand... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Mary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, INS Chief Executive Officer, Editor, Journal of Infusion Nursing

The Advanced Nursing Education Program provides grants and training opportunities to some 12,000 students pursuing graduate nursing degrees or places on nursing school faculties. The Nurse Education Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to those training to become entry-level nurses.1 Although the additional $13 million for the loan repayment and scholarship program is welcome, the elimination of the Advanced Nursing Education Program could mean that there will not be enough capacity in schools for those potential student nurses for lack of faculty. Last year, 42,596 qualified applicants were denied admission to baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs primarily because there were not enough nurse educators.2


The National League for Nursing (NLN) publicly criticized the budget cuts as it released findings from a study conducted with the Carnegie Foundation. The cuts would adversely affect the nursing shortage, said the League, and underline the finding that 1 in 5 nurse faculty members said they were likely to retire from paid employment in 5 years or less, and almost one half of all nurse faculty (47.9%) said they were likely to retire in 6 to 10 years.2 NLN CEO Dr. Beverly Malone stated that "nurses need to be fearless advocates for increased funding for workforce development if we are to have a chance to meet our health care needs in the coming years."3


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) weighed in as well. AACN president Jeanette Lancaster stated: "Though many efforts to address the US nursing shortage are having a positive impact, nursing schools are struggling to further expand student capacity to meet the growing demand for professional nurses."4


Nurses are essential components of the healthcare team and public health infrastructure, and nursing is still consistently ranked one of the most trusted professions.5 Consumers of healthcare need to be made aware of the impact funding would have on the supply of nurses and should be encouraged to alert their legislators of the negative impact this will have on healthcare delivery.


These budget cuts require a call to action, so nurses and their patients, especially as constituents, need to contact their members of Congress expressing their displeasure and grave concern about the proposed funding for nurses. To find out how to contact your members of Congress, visit: and Not only does our healthcare system need educated nurses, but our patients deserve them.


Mary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE




1. Reichard J. Advocates say proposed cuts would worsen nursing shortage. Congressional Quarterly HealthBeat News [serial online]. February 21, 2007. Available at Accessed February 23, 2007. [Context Link]


2. AACN concerned that recommendations in the president's FY 2008 budget would heighten the nation's nursing shortage [press release]. Washington, DC: American Association of Colleges of Nursing, February 9, 2007. [Context Link]


3. NLN/Carnegie Foundation National Survey of Nurse Educators. Compensation, Workload, and Teaching Practices. New York: National League for Nursing, 2006. [Context Link]


4. President's budget unacceptable in the face of nurse and nurse educator shortages [press release]. New York: National League for Nursing, February 5, 2007. [Context Link]


5. Nursing seen as most ethical occupation [Gallup/USA Today poll]. USA Today. Available at Accessed March 9, 2007. [Context Link]