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August 05, 2002
Bush Signs Nurse Training Bill
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>President Bush signed a bill that provides grants and scholarships to train nurses in an effort to lessen the nation's nursing shortage, the Associated Press reports.
The bill gives the government an unspecified budget to provide scholarships and loan-repayment programs for nurses. The effort seeks to make the profession more attractive to both train for and work in. The bill also provides grants for specialized nursing training in geriatric care, an area experiencing especially severe shortages.
According to the AP, nurses who become faculty will be able to have the loans for their advanced degrees forgiven.
In exchange, nurses who take advantage of the benefits offered by the federal program must work for a minimum of two years in a hospital with a critical nursing shortage.
The nation's nursing shortage is so severe that some officials fear it will reach 500,000 by 2020. The shortage is straining facilities' resources and causing nurses to burn out from long hours and heavy workloads, the AP reports.
Officials have said that if current trends continue, the nation will face a shortage of a half-million nurses by 2020. Current vacancies are around 125,000.
Now that the president has signed the bill, Congress must find funding for the program in the budget.