With Pennsylvania facing an aging population and the retirement of veteran nurses, Governor Ed Rendell has signed legislation intended to address the chronic shortage of nurses and other health providers.
State Senator Tina Tartaglione, a Democrat from Philadelphia, is the sponsor of the measure that creates the Pennsylvania Center for Health Careers within the Department of Labor and Industry.....
“We need to produce the next generation of health-care workers because we have a historically large next generation of seniors. Understaffing and overworking health care workers affects more than just their quality of life. It affects patient safety and outcomes as well."
The center will focus on increasing the capacity of nursing education, retaining health-care workers, increasing diversity and training new critical care workers. The idea was part of the governor's statewide “Workforce Investment Board” initiative. Tartaglione’s legislation makes the office a permanent part of the department, rather than just a gubernatorial policy priority.
Since its inception in 2004, the center has conducted surveys of health professionals and kept tabs on the future need for health workers. Tartaglione says a recent study showed the shortage of nurses easing slightly after four years of effort.
However, the need for health-care workers is expected to increase as Pennsylvania’s population ages and older nurses retire. The center estimates that Pennsylvania may be short 38,000 nurses by 2015 when the authorization for the center sunsets according to a House amendment to the bill.