Lack of Nursing Faculty Threatens Health Care Quality

More funding to alleviate nurse shortage will improve patient safety

MONDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- The shrinking pool of experienced nurses and nurse faculty is a direct threat to the quality of health care in the United States, according to an article published in the June issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

Terri L. Nally, of the Emergency Nurses Association in Falls Church, Va., writes that the Emergency Nurses Association has stated in its 2007-2008 Public Policy Agenda that patient safety and quality of care can be improved by increasing funding for the alleviation of the nursing shortage.

The nurse faculty workforce remains homogenous in terms of ethnicity, and this under-representation of racial and ethnic minorities plays a part in restricting culturally appropriate health care education. Nurse educators are also underpaid relative to their peers in clinical settings, and have an unreasonably heavy workload, according to the article. Funding for Title VIII programs, the main federal funding for nursing education, is likely to exacerbate the situation, the author notes.

"Flat funding or cuts in the nursing education budget will only diminish workforce development, a myopic action that potentially further jeopardizes the delivery of affordable, quality health care for the people in the United States," the author writes. "The Emergency Nurses Association argues that negligible federal investments in nursing education aggravate a dire health care environment, especially one in which emergency care has become the unintended endpoint of an overburdened system."

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