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Resolutions & Amendments

45th International Convention - Philadelphia (2022)

Promote Targeted Investment in Nursing Education

Resolution No. 18


Central to building a strong nurse workforce is a higher education system that has the capacity to supply enough nursing graduates to meet the demands of the health care system. Authors of a 2015 healthcare workforce report forewarned that the number of RNs produced each year nationwide is “grossly inadequate” to match the blatantly predictable increase in future demand; and


Nurses are leaving the workforce in droves. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released data predicting that the U.S. healthcare system will need approximately 1.1 million new nurses nationwide by 2025 to accommodate rising demand of an aging population and health concerns related to delayed care. With the rapid exodus of nurses due to burnout and the aging workforce, experts estimate that by 2025, the U.S. will not simply fall short of the BLS projected need but will face a shortage of 200,000 to 450,000 registered nurses. Based on trends over the last two years, it is estimated that for every 1% of nurses who leave direct patient care, the shortage worsens by about 30,000 nurses; and


A simple solution to the nurse shortage is increasing the nurse workforce. Applications to nurse programs soared in 2020 but higher education institutions were forced to turn away more than 80,000 qualified applicants across the spectrum (ADN, BSN, MSN, and post-graduate candidates) due to lack of faculty and program constraints. Colleges and universities were unable to enroll more than 66,000 qualified applicants to BSN programs; and


Higher education is costly. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in nursing can cost up to $80,000 while investing in a Master of Nursing degree or a specialty program can cost as much as $100,000 or more. Unfortunately, the investment rarely pays off with an estimated salary bump of only $10,000, according to nursing school officials; and


Using pre-pandemic data, nurse graduation rates will still not be sufficient to replace the nurses who are leaving and grow the nursing workforce at pace with rising demand. Experts predict California needs to immediately increase nurse graduates by 60% and the U.S. will need to more than double the number of new graduates entering and staying in the nursing workforce every year for the next three years straight; and


Even if enough graduates make it to the bedside, recent statistics show they are not staying in the workforce. Unfortunately, new grads are leaving the profession or considering a new career in unprecedented numbers. According to a recent American Nurses Foundation survey, nurses under 35 were twice as likely to report burnout as those over 55, and more likely to quit. Younger nurses are more likely to consider a move, with 23% of millennial nurses actively looking to change professions. The overwhelming majority (73%) of Generation Z nurses—those 24 years old or younger—are open to new opportunities; and


The detrimental national nursing shortage simply cannot be solved unless higher education institutions train more nurses. The duality of aging nurses and vulnerability of young nurses is yet one more red flag that cannot be ignored. Programs and higher education incentives would go a long way in recruiting applicants and sustaining students through graduation.


AFSCME urges Congress to pass the Future Advancement of Academic Nursing (FAAN) Act (H.R. 851/S. 246), which will award competitive grants to nursing schools to enhance nursing education programs and expand their capacity to respond to public health emergencies; and


Congress should expand the Graduate Nurse Education (GNE) pilot, authorized and funded through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. Through this demonstration project, from 2012 to 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) paid hospitals to increase their clinical education slots and take on more advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) than they normally would. Researchers found that this investment enrolled 89 more students, graduated 35 more APRN students per school of nursing and strengthened long-term partnerships between nursing programs and clinical placement sites; and


Congress should increase funding for programs authorized under Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act. Nursing advocates across the board have supported $530 million in funding for nursing workforce development included in this proposal. This legislation is a critical source of loan repayment and scholarships for nurses; loans for nursing faculty development; and grants for advanced education, increasing diversity and improving outcomes for nurse education.

Denise Duncan, RN, President and Delegate
Charmaine Morales, RN, Vice President and Delegate