SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Assemblymembers Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) and Juan Arambula (D-Fresno), announced today that their measure (Assembly Bill 867) to address a severe nursing shortage in California was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on a bipartisan 11 to 0 vote.

“I am very pleased that AB 867 is moving forward with today’s vote. This measure will enable nursing programs across California to expand appropriately to meet the enrollment demand in nursing education programs and the state’s critical need for registered nurses,” said Nava. “Our state’s higher education system cannot currently meet our healthcare workforce needs. This measure is an important step towards rectifying this problem.”

AB 867 will allow the California State University (CSU) to independently award a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, and will allow the CSU to train their own nursing faculty and the California Community College faculty, as well as nurses for advanced practice (for example, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and certified nurse- midwives). Under current law, the California State University system can train nurses but cannot offer Doctorate of Nursing Degrees (DNP). Faculty must have earned a DNP to train nurses.

The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) estimates that the state’s registered nurse (RN) shortage is between 10,294 and 59,027 full-time positions. Central to this issue is a shortage of nursing faculty — there are not enough teachers available to meet the low student-to-faculty ratios required by accreditors and licensing boards for undergraduate nursing degree programs.

“The Central Valley has about 20 percent fewer nurses per capita then the national average. The Valley is in desperate need of nurses and the lack of faculty to teach them worsens the problem,” said Assemblymember Juan Arambula. “AB 867 will ensure nursing programs have the faculty needed to meet the raising demand of registered nurses in the state.”

AB 867 now moves to the Senate Floor for consideration.

Background Information

· In 2006, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) found that nearly 41,000 qualified applicants were turned away from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs due to a lack of faculty and other resources.

· According to the 2006-07 BRN Annual School Report, expansion in RN education has required the hiring of more faculty. However the demand for faculty continues to be greater than can be met currently by the state. California RN programs reported 206 unfilled faculty positions in 2006-07, a 5.9% vacancy rate.

· The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) projects that 90% more RNs must be produced in order to meet the predicted need for one million new nurses in the American healthcare system by 2020.