Debate on Nurse Training and Retention Act of 2009

Bill Overview

The “Nurse Training and Retention Act of 2009” is aimed at developing and funding a comprehensive nurse educational program that will create a steady supply of qualified nurses to ease the nursing shortage that is projected to hit most healthcare facilities in the United States in the next 10 or so years. Through this bill, the Secretary of labor is bound to come up with an elaborate partnership funding program that offers grants to suitable entities willing to develop an inclusive program that enables the nursing staff and other professionals working in the healthcare sector to advance their professions. The funding program incorporates healthcare providers, nursing staff organizations, and certified nursing schools in improving the nurse educational programs, increasing the nurse educational facilities in addition to increasing the quantifiable opportunities available for nurses.

The proposed funding program is projected to be operational within six months after the Act is ratified. These funds will enable the implementation of the above-named purposes through some eligible entities such as joint healthcare organizations managed by healthcare employers and unions representing the organizations’ employees relative to the provisions of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947. Other eligible entities include healthcare training facilities and programs jointly managed by healthcare providers and organizations representing and managed by healthcare workers. Moreover, State-owned collaborative nurse training programs consisting of equal representation from the private and public sectors, community-owned colleges, and certified nursing schools are also eligible to apply for the grants.

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Besides the grants being set aside for improving the nurse educational programs and facilities for current healthcare employees, preference is given to those programs with the capacity to improve nurse retention, improve patient safety and the quality of healthcare services. In addition, programs that diversify the nursing profession to match the current healthcare demands and those that have shown success in achieving the purposes of this Act are preferably eligible for the grants. Finally, the Act provides for the steps to be followed during the process of program evaluation.

Senator/Congressperson who sponsored the Bill

The bill was introduced by Mr. Durbin to the United States Senate whereby it was interpreted twice and reference made to the Commission on Labor, Education, Pensions, and Health.

Research Findings

It goes without debate that the current issues in the healthcare sector have exacerbated the life-time challenges facing the industry. For many decades now, the healthcare industry is faced with numerous nursing educational problems leading to nursing shortages and decreased entry of new nurses into active practice (Cowen & Moorhead, 2006, p. 54). Currently, the introduction of revised nurse educational curricular and technological changes in the nursing industry further adds on to the existing challenges. Consequently, the current nursing shortages are attributable to a wide range of factors that include socio-economic, technological, demographic, and workplace factors (Cowen & Moorhead, 2006, p. 55).

Relative to the findings of the United States Congress, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that most healthcare facilities in America will be facing a nursing shortage of approximately 800,000 nurses within the next 15 years (Pindus et al., 2010; Houde & Melilo, 2009). This is attributable to a decreased number of newcomers into the industry besides the huge number of current workers who are set to retire within 20 years. Furthermore, studies indicate that the industry is in urgent need of 40,000 nursing staff to reinforce the current 20,000 (Cowen & Moorhead, 2006, p. 56). These are the major problems that the Nurse Training and Retention Act of 2009 seek to address.

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Through this Act, introduction of new educational programs for nurses such as training of Clinical Nurse Leaders (CNL) and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is imperative (Chism, 2010). The ultimate importance of the CNLs is that they are skilled workers who employ evidence-based practices in improving the quality and safety of services. On the other hand, the DNL has the opportunity of bringing the nursing profession into correspondence with other fields in healthcare besides preparing the current nurses in readiness for the ever-changing job demands (Chism, 2010).

Furthermore, the Act enables the nursing profession to meet its Social Policy Statement, which re-states its responsibility in serving the society and its people. This policy is achieved through nurses’ commitment in advocacy, healthcare policy formulation and implementation (Mason et al., 2007). These responsibilities are further achieved through the DNP program, which trains nurses in healthcare advocacy and policy formulation. Empowerment of current nurses to be patient advocates is an extension of Florence Nightingale’s initiatives of 1860 (Mason et al., 2007). Through the leadership skills and practical experience obtained in the DNP programs, the DNP graduates can be engaged in active political activism through research, educational interests and nursing organizations (Mason et al., 2007). Besides, the nursing profession being the most trusted profession by many people; it can utilize this opportunity by actively advocating for implementation of patient-oriented policies.

Recommendations

From the discussions above, it is notable that the nursing shortages are real and they are bound to hit most healthcare facilities in the next 15 or so years. To address this problem while there is still time, it is hereby recommended that:

  • The community through the community-based nursing colleges should demonstrate its unwinding support and be actively involved in the implementation of the policies formulated by the key players in the healthcare industry concerning the nurse educational programs.
  • The DNP graduates should be endowed with the abilities of determining the areas of interest where they can apply their leadership skills in patient advocacy.
  • Expanding the nursing educational programs is the best measure in addressing the increasing healthcare demands and nursing shortages.
  • The DNP graduates should be provided with additional sources whereby they can get informed on matters pertaining patient advocacy and policy formulation.

Reference List

Chism, L.A. (2010). The doctor of nursing practice: A guidebook for role development and professional issues. New York: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

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Cowen, P.S., & Moorhead, S. (2006). Current issues in nursing (6th ed.). St. Louis, MD: Mosby Elsevier.

Houde, S.C. & Melilo, D.K. (2009). Caring for an Aging population: Review of policy initiatives. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 35 (12): 131-136.

Mason, D., Leavitt, J. & Chaffee, M. (2007). Policy & politics in nursing and health care (5th ed.). St.Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier.

Pindus, M.N., Tilly, J. & Weinstein, S. (2010). Skill shortages and mismatches in nursing related health care employment. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.

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