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Hirono, Colleagues Push to Increase Nursing Education and Workforce Support

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and eight colleagues in introducing the Future Advancement of Academic Nursing (FAAN) Act. This bicameral legislation would support a grant program to increase the number of faculty and students at nursing schools, which is critical to addressing nursing workforce shortages. This would help nursing schools to enhance preparedness, quickly respond to public health emergencies and pandemics, enroll students underrepresented in the nursing workforce, and modernize nursing education and infrastructure.

“Nurses are critical to our communities and often find themselves on the frontlines of public health emergencies,” said Senator Hirono. “Since before the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawaii has faced a healthcare worker shortage with 999 registered nurse positions unfilled statewide and higher rates of vacancies on neighbor islands. As we continue to support our essential healthcare workers, I am proud to introduce this legislation that would enhance preparedness in our healthcare system and address nursing workforce shortages by investing record funding in nursing education.”

When considering grant distribution, the legislation also specifies that priority would be given to nursing schools that are located in, or prepare students to practice in, rural areas or a non-contiguous state—such as Hawaii—or U.S. territory. This consideration would also be given to schools in medically underserved areas, health professional shortage areas, and minority-serving institutions.

In addition to Senator Hirono, this legislation is cosponsored by Senators Peter Welch (D-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Angus King (I-ME), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Alex Padilla (D-CA).

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL).

The FAAN Act is supported by over 30 organizations including the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American Nurses Association, and National Rural Health Association.