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Rep. Michael E. Capuano Introduces Legislation to Alleviate the Nursing Shortage: H.R. 4665, the Nurse Education Promotion Act

May 7, 2002 -- Today Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-MA) and Rep. Ernie Fletcher, MD (R-KY) introduced HR 4665, the Nurse Education Promotion Act. This bipartisan legislation is designed to alleviate the nursing shortage, by providing money for associate degree programs and continuing education.

"Nurses constitute the nation's largest group of healthcare professionals," stated Rep. Capuano. "They serve in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, managed care facilities and community health centers, and their work is invaluable. Unfortunately, there is an emerging labor shortage among this group of healthcare professionals. Fewer and fewer people are choosing nursing as a career. This legislation would make nursing more accessible to those who want to pursue it as a career."

According to the General Accounting Office, between 1993 and 1996 enrollments at two-year associate degree programs dropped 11%, while enrollments at three-year diploma programs dropped 42%. Between 1995 and 1998, enrollments at four-year bachelors programs dropped 19%. Even so, the demand for nurses is increasing, and it will only grow as the baby boomers retire. The Congressional Research Service projects that the supply of nurses will fail to meet demand by 2010.

The Nurse Education Promotion Act creates incentives and opportunities for men and women to choose nursing as a career. Rep. Capuano supports other legislation to alleviate the nursing shortage. However, he believes that focusing on qualified two-year schools will allow nurses to enter the field more quickly. By providing money for continuing education, he hopes to ensure that nurses are able to meet the changing and increasingly complex demands of our healthcare system.