AARP, RWJF, Labor Department Seek Solutions to Nursing and Nurse Faculty Shortage

    • June 26, 2008

AARP, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) today are convening a summit of multistakeholder groups to identify solutions to the nurse faculty shortage that is forcing nursing schools to turn away thousands of qualified nursing candidates each year. Summit participants will identify and develop approaches to improving nursing education capacity—with the ultimate goal of reversing the persistent nursing shortage that could leave the United States without enough nurses.

The Nursing Education Capacity Summit in Washington D.C., includes 18 state teams—Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin—that will come together to share best practices to expand nursing education and to foster action in four key areas: 

  1. strategic partnerships and resource alignment; 
  2. policy and regulation; 
  3. increasing faculty capacity and diversity; and 
  4. education redesign.

Also participating in the Summit is the Division of Nursing in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration.

"AARP recognizes the important role that states play; they are where the rubber meets the road in terms of health care delivery," said Senior Vice President of the AARP Public Policy Institute and Chief Strategist for the Center to Champion Nursing in America Susan Reinhard. The Center to Champion Nursing in America is a joint initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Nurses play a significant role in reducing medical errors and improving health care quality, which is why we urgently need to find solutions to address both the shortage of nurses and the shortage of faculty to educate them," Reinhard added.
The summit comes at a critical time for nursing. Latest surveys project that the United States could fall short by close to half a million registered nurses by 2025 absent of aggressive action. Currently, the supply of new nurses is failing to keep pace with rising patient demand, in part because a significant number of interested and qualified nursing school applicants have been turned away in recent years due to a growing shortage of nursing faculty.

"The time to simply talk about the problem is over," said RWJF Senior Program Officer Susan Hassmiller. "What's essential now is to fundamentally rethink how nurses are and should be educated and how they should be deployed in the workforce. The experiences of these states offer the best hope for achieving these goals."

A white paper, Blowing Open the Bottleneck: Designing New Approaches to Increase Nurse Education Capacity, will be released at the summit. The paper highlights programs that are making progress in addressing both shortage and education capacity problems in nursing. The white paper and information about the June 26–27, 2008, summit can be found at the Center to Champion Nursing in America Web site and at the Department of Labor Web site.

The AARP Foundation is AARP's affiliated charity. Foundation programs provide security, protection and empowerment for older persons in need. Low-income older workers receive the job training and placement they need to rejoin the workforce. Free tax preparation is provided for low- and moderate-income individuals, with special attention to those 60 and older. The foundation's litigation staff protects the legal rights of older Americans in critical health, long-term care, and consumer and employment situations. Additional programs provide information, education and services to ensure that people over 50 lead lives of independence, dignity and purpose. Foundation programs are funded by grants, tax-deductible contributions and AARP. For more information visit

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