Last week, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced new legislation to target factors contributing to the nationwide nursing shortage. The Nurse Faculty Shortage Reduction Act addresses the pay gap between clinical and faculty nursing staff by providing a federal wage differential.

The current pay disparity discourages nurse leaders from taking up faculty positions to educate the next generation of nurses—a crucial component of developing a robust pipeline of healthcare professionals. The pay gap between clinical and faculty positions is the primary economic disincentive fueling the nursing shortage. This bill targets that critical flaw in the system.  

Senator Durbin commented on the proposed legislation, saying, “Through the Nurse Faculty Shortage Reduction Act, we are closing the pay gap between clinical nursing and nurse faculty roles to address the main bottleneck that is driving our nursing shortage. I’m thankful for Senator Murkowski’s partnership on this essential, bipartisan bill, which will help support our nurses and ensure our hospitals are well-staffed.”

Senator Murkowski added, “By supporting recruitment efforts, creating incentives for nursing students, and training more people to work as—and remain as—bedside nurses, we can support a healthier future across the country.”

The nursing shortage is well documented, but nurse education plays a critical role in fostering the development of future nurses. It is imperative we recognize that nursing education also remains in jeopardy. In 2021, nursing colleges were forced to turn away 92,000 qualified applicants because they lacked the educators necessary to aptly train students. Nationwide, there are over 2,200 vacant full time faculty positions. This legislation targets this root issue to ensure Americans have access to high-quality healthcare for generations to come.

Read more about the Nurse Faculty Shortage Reduction Act here.