By Karin Rush-Monroe
UCSF School of Nursing Dean Kathy Dracup RN, DNSc, joined US Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week to announce that $200 million is available to support grants, loans, loan repayment, and scholarships to expand the training of health care professionals.
Dracup spoke about the importance of funding to address a predicted “avalanche of nursing and faculty shortages.”
The funds are part of the $500 million allotted to the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration to address workforce shortages under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The money will allow approximately 8,000 students and credentialed health professionals to be trained by the end of fiscal year 2010.
“Health care reform cannot happen without an adequate supply of well-trained, well-distributed providers,” said Secretary Sebelius. “These ARRA funds provide targeted investments in primary care, nursing, faculty development, and equipment purchases that will shore up the workforce as we prepare for reform.”
Some $39 million of these funds will be targeted to nurses and nurse faculty, $40 million to disadvantaged students in a wide range of health professions, and $1.2 million to health professions faculty from disadvantaged backgrounds. Another $10.2 million will help increase the diversity of the health professions workforce.
In her remarks, Dracup commented on existing and looming shortages of nurses and nurse faculty—especially critical since “one out of three Americans sees a nurse practitioner” each year, she said.
“It was an honor to have this opportunity to emphasize our country’s dire need to train more health care professionals, in particular nurses,” Dracup said. “Given the demands that our aging population will place on an already stressed health care system, supporting a new generation of nurses and nurse practitioners is of the utmost importance.”
HHS predicts that the United States will need about 2.8 million nurses by 2020, one million more than the projected supply.
Dracup emphasized the role of nurses in providing high-quality, cost-effective primary care.
“Nurse practitioners helped fill the primary care provider shortage in the 1960s and continue to be a viable solution for delivering primary care and managing chronic illness,” she said. “Studies indicate that labor costs per patient visit are lower in primary care practices where nurse practitioners provided care.”
Dracup also cited the impact of national and state budget shortages on nursing students and faculty. The UCSF School of Nursing receives approximately 700 applications each year for the 85 slots available to prepare new nurses. The school is scheduled to receive an 11 percent reduction in state funding, which will severely restrict the number of faculty who can be hired and the number of students who can be accepted.
“We welcome this new funding,” Dracup said. “It comes at a critical time as we prepare to address the country’s current and rapidly expanding health care needs.”
UCSF is home to the largest nursing graduate program in the state of California and receives the greatest total of research funds in its field from the National Institutes of Health.
Increasing the diversity of students and faculty also is a top priority of the nursing school, according to Dracup, who has said that “diversity is the key to excellence in health care.”
Secretary Sebelius Makes Recovery Act Funding Available to Expand Health Professions Training
HHS Press Release, July 28, 2009
Dean Ushers in 101st Year of School of Nursing
UCSF Today, Feb. 29, 2008
Nursing School Plans for Enrollment Growth, Faculty Succession, Dean Says
UCSF Today, Feb. 26, 2007