Nursing Shortage Press Conference

Nurse training programs will be strengthened under higher education legislation that Congress passed and President Bush is expected to sign. Senator Bernie Sanders, a member of the Senate education committee, authored the section of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 that would address the nursing shortage by authorizing $3,000 for each additional student colleges enroll in nursing programs. Congress approved the bill on July 31. President Bush is expected to sign it by August 14, when the current higher education law expires. "My hope is that this provision will result in an additional 10,000 or more students graduating from nursing schools each year at a modest cost," Sanders said. The senator was joined at a press conference here by Betty Rambur, dean of the University of Vermont College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Vermont Technical College President Ty Handy. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services foresees a shortage of more than 1 million nurses by the year 2020. Even with such an enormous need for nurses, U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 41,000 qualified applicants in 2005. If community college and associate degree nursing programs are included in these numbers, 150,000 well-qualified applicants are turned away each year from nursing programs.

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