Introduced by Representatives Keenan of St. Albans City, Martin of Springfield, Emmons of Springfield, Pellett of Chester, Ancel of Calais, Atkins of Winooski, Bohi of Hartford, Chen of Mendon, Donovan of Burlington, Dostis of Waterbury, Edwards of Brattleboro, French of Randolph, Heath of Westford, Howard of Rutland City, Howrigan of Fairfield, Marek of Newfane, Martin of Wolcott, McLaughlin of Royalton, Milkey of Brattleboro, Miller of Shaftsbury, Mook of Bennington, Orr of Charlotte, Pugh of South Burlington, Shand of Weathersfield, Trombley of Grand Isle and Young of Orwell
Subject: Health and welfare; department of health; nursing faculty; education loan forgiveness; appropriation
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to direct the commissioner of health to establish an education loan forgiveness program for expenses related to an advanced nursing degree for nurses serving on the faculty of certain Vermont postsecondary institutions; to establish a nurse educator advocate award; and to appropriate $200,000.00 for the nursing loan forgiveness program.
AN ACT RELATING TO EDUCATION LOAN FORGIVENESS FOR NURSING FACULTY
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. FINDINGS
The general assembly finds that:
(1) Vermont has a statewide nursing vacancy rate of 12 percent in hospitals and home health agencies and 19 percent in long-term care facilities.
(2) Nationally, the size of the registered nurse (RN) workforce is predicted to be 20 percent below projected requirements by the year 2020, as aging RNs retire, and a smaller cohort of younger nurses is available to replace them.
(3) Compromised quality of health care, including increased mortality and infection rates, has been linked to a high patient-to-nurse ratio.
(4) Nursing faculty needs to be prepared at the master’s and doctoral levels, and a small pool of candidates, less than five percent, is currently available in Vermont.
(5) The average age of nursing faculty in Vermont is 50 years old.
(6) Salaries for nursing faculty lag behind similarly educated nurses in clinical practice.
(7) Nurses with graduate degrees who applied for the University of Vermont Area Health Education Centers Primary Care Educational Loan Repayment Program in 2003 have an average debt of $38,000.00.
(8) The cost of a graduate degree in nursing, $15,000.00 - $40,000.00, discourages some potential applicants.
(9) A nursing faculty educational loan repayment program would provide an increased incentive for nurses to pursue graduate degrees and work as nursing faculty.
(10) A recognition award is needed for health care facilities which collaborate with schools of nursing to develop joint clinical appointments and help expand the current capacity of Vermont nursing schools.
Sec. 2. 18 V.S.A. § 10a is added to read:
§ 10a. NURSING FACULTY; LOANS; LOAN FORGIVENESS FOR ADVANCED NURSING DEGREE DEBT
(a) A nurse with outstanding educational debt acquired in pursuit of an advanced nursing degree is eligible for education loan forgiveness or repayment of that debt of up to $10,000.00 per year of service on the nursing faculty of Castleton State College, Norwich University, Vermont Technical College, Southern Vermont College, or the University of Vermont, provided he or she either incurred such debt after July 1, 2005 or was first employed on the nursing faculty after July 1, 2005.
(b) This program shall be administered by the commissioner of health. The commissioner may adopt rules as necessary to administer the program. Eligibility for educational debt forgiveness or repayment shall be determined by representatives from the five schools of nursing referenced in subsection (a) of this section and staff from the University of Vermont Area Health Education Center program. In addition, the educational debt forgiveness or repayment program shall be administered in such a way as to comply with the requirements of Section 108(f) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Sec. 3. 18 V.S.A. § 10b is added to read:
§ 10b. NURSE EDUCATOR ADVOCATE AWARDS
Annually, the commissioner of health shall award “nurse educator advocate” plaques which recognize health care facilities that have helped to improve nursing education in Vermont by enabling a nurse who has obtained a master’s degree or doctorate in nursing and is employed as a full-time employee of the health care facility to devote at least two days a week to providing education services to nursing students. Recipients of the award shall be chosen by the statewide area health education centers program.
Sec. 4. APPROPRIATION
The amount of $200,000.00 is appropriated to the commissioner of health to carry out the purposes of this act.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street