AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

ADDRESSING THE HEALTHCARE WORKFORCE CRISIS—RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION OF NURSES AND HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

WHEREAS, the country is facing a shortage of nurses, which the American Association of Colleges of Nursing calls "unprecedented in its depth and duration," with an estimated 1.2 million new and replacement nurses needed by 2014; and

WHEREAS, other health professions are facing significant shortages as well, with hospitals nationwide reporting vacancy rates of 21 percent for pharmacists, 18 percent for radiology technologists, 12 percent for laboratory technologists and 9 percent for housekeeping and maintenance staff; and

WHEREAS, healthcare workforce needs will exponentially increase with our aging workforce; and

WHEREAS, the primary policy tool for addressing these critical shortages has been increased funding for scholarships, particularly in the field of nursing—a tool that has proven woefully inadequate in part because the lack of nursing school faculty and clinical training sites have constrained the number of students who can be accepted. In 2006, more than 40,000 qualified applicants to baccalaureate and graduate programs in nursing were turned away, as were more than 60,000 applicants to associate and diploma programs because the programs were not capable of handling the number of qualified applicants; and

WHEREAS, conditions in the healthcare workplace, including forced overtime, understaffing and increasing violence against health professionals make it difficult to retain both new workers and current employees; and

WHEREAS, the impact of these shortages on the quality and safety of patient care and the effective functioning of the U.S. healthcare system promises to be devastating:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers call on the federal government to develop an aggressive plan to address this crisis including both short-term and long-term strategies for recruiting and retaining the healthcare workforce; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers continue to advocate for innovative and creative ways to expand the number of students who can receive the education necessary to join the healthcare workforce; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers call on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to significantly increase reimbursement rates to those hospitals willing to offer clinical sites for nurse training; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers continue to advocate for legislation, regulation and bargaining language to limit workloads, ban mandatory overtime and address the other conditions that are driving health professionals from direct care; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers consider working with others to convene a task force to develop a resource center on changes in workplace policies, procedures and contract language that might enhance retention of veteran workers.


(2008)