Burlington, Vt., Jan. 3 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Governor Phil Scott, and Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint – on behalf of both herself and House Speaker Jill Krowinski – came together Monday to discuss Vermont’s nursing workforce crisis.
Estimates suggest that Vermont needs to add approximately 9,000 nurses to the state’s workforce in the next seven years. However, Vermont’s nursing schools are currently only able to graduate between 500 and 600 nurses each year – less than half of the number needed to keep up with retirements and those leaving the workforce.
“Nurses are the backbone of our health care system in Vermont and across the country,” said Sen. Sanders. “Simply stated, we will not have the quality healthcare we need unless we have an adequate number of nurses who are well trained and well compensated. I have absolute confidence that this is a problem that can be solved. I look forward to working with the governor, the legislature and the congressional delegation to make certain that we do that.”
“I want to thank Senator Sanders and his staff for all their work with my team over the last several months, focusing on this important issue. Growing our workforce, particularly in the health care sector, must be a top priority for all elected officials in Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “The Budget Adjustment I’ve proposed includes nearly $18 million for training, recruitment and retention for Home and Community Based Service human service providers. And, for the broader health care community, this week, I’ll also propose an additional investment of $15 million for retention bonuses, grants to support employers in training and retaining new nurse graduates, and funding to assist with recruiting and relocation international nurses. I look forward to working with Senator Sanders and state legislative leaders in the coming months to make needed progress.”
“We need to do this for all Vermonters in all communities because when we need medical care we want there to be a nurse to help us. We know that many nurses across Vermont are already feeling overwhelmed. They’re working long hours to cover holes in schedules caused by staffing shortages. This isn’t fair and it’s not sustainable. The legislature will continue to work together with the administration and our federal delegation to meet this critical need.” said Senate President Pro Tempore Balint and House Speaker Krowinski.
Last month, Sanders announced record funding to bolster health care workforces in rural and underserved communities in Vermont through loan repayments and scholarship programs. In September of last year, Sanders announced that Vermont’s 11 federally qualified health centers received over $6.9 million in funding to support major health care construction and renovation projects, including COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccination infrastructure projects. More information on these programs – including how to apply – can be found here.
Senator Sanders’ full statement is available here.