American Nurses Association Endorses Legislation Addressing RN Staffing Shortage
House bill calls for improving nurses' work environment through 'best practices'
Washington, DC -- Calling it a real plan to ensure quality patient care and improve nurses' working lives, the American Nurses Association (ANA) strongly endorsed legislation unveiled today by U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) that takes aim at nurse staffing problems plaguing health care facilities nationwide.
Similar legislation, S 1594, was introduced last October by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Gordon Smith (R-OR).
While factors like the aging RN workforce and decreased enrollment in nursing school programs play a role in the current staffing crisis, ANA believes a major contributor is nurses' dissatisfaction with their workplace. This dissatisfaction is leading experienced nurses to leave the bedside, and it's hindering efforts to recruit qualified men and women into the profession.
The "Nurse Retention and Quality of Care Act of 2002" will provide grants to health care facilities to develop and implement strategies, or "best practices," that will make the workplace attractive to nurses. The legislation specifically points to strategies the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a subsidiary of ANA, promotes through its "Magnet Nursing Services Recognition Program." Acute and long-term care facilities designated by ANCC as "Magnets" have proven track records for retaining nurses, even during times of national shortages, because they put a high premium on nursing services.
"Average nurse retention in Magnet facilities is twice as long as that of non-Magnet institutions," said ANCC President Cecilia Mulvey, PhD, RN. "More important, patients in Magnet facilities experience fewer negative outcomes, shorter lengths of stay, and increased satisfaction with their health care services. This legislation builds on model practices with a proven track record."
Said ANA President Mary E. Foley, MS, RN, "I can think of no better way for our lawmakers to recognize registered nurses during National Nurses Week than by supporting this legislation. Nurses want to work in an environment that is safe, well-staffed, and where they have a true voice in shaping clinical practices and hospital policies. This legislation will help create that environment."
National Nurses Week is observed annually, May 6-12.