Unprecedented Federal Investment in Training Advanced Practice Registered Nurses

Jul 31, 2012, 11:34 AM

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a four-year, $200 million investment to support the training of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). The move was lauded by leaders of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Center to Champion Nursing in America.

The Secretary went to Duke University’s School of Nursing to announce that the Graduate Nurse Education Demonstration program will reimburse costs associated with training APRNS (nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse specialists) at five networks of hospitals, nursing schools, and community-based clinics and health centers.  They are:  the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia; Duke University Hospital, in Durham, N.C.; Scottsdale Healthcare Medical Center, in Ariz.; Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago, Ill.; and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center Hospital, in Houston, Texas.

The goal, officials said, is to help these highly skilled nurses gain the skills necessary to provide primary and preventive care for Medicare beneficiaries, including in underserved communities.

“This announcement marks a historic moment of investment in the crucial and growing role of nurses in our health care system,” RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, said. “With 8,000 baby boomers turning 65 and qualifying for Medicare daily, patients everywhere can benefit from the expertise of advanced practice nurses and the expanded access to care they potentially can provide. The decision to extend Medicare funding to nurses recognizes the urgent need to expand the workforce to care for the growing population of Medicare recipients.”

“This relatively modest investment will pay big dividends for consumers by preparing more highly skilled nurses to provide care when and where it is needed,” agreed Susan Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior vice president of the AARP Public Policy Institute and chief strategist of the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation, and RWJF.  “These new health professionals will improve access to crucial primary, preventive, and transitional care across a range of settings—from the hospital, to the home, to convenient care clinics,”

Half of the clinical training provided at the five demonstration sites must take place in the community, outside of hospital settings.  The aim is to ensure that APRNs have skills to provide primary, preventive and transitional care, and to help patients manage chronic conditions.  The funding is authorized under the Affordable Care Act.

Read a news release about the announcement from RWJF and the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation, and RWJF.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.