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Vitale Bill to Boost Nursing Ranks, Support Nurses, CNAs Clears Health, Human Services, Senior Citizens Committee

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Trenton – The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee yesterday passed comprehensive health-care legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Vitale that would implement certain measures aimed at supporting nurses and the nursing workforce. The bill would also transfer oversight over certified nurse aides (CNAs) from the Department of Health to the New Jersey Board of Nursing.

Under the bill, S-2825, a host of new requirements and initiatives would be established to build up the field of nursing, including programs to ensure a healthy and supportive work environment, bolster the ranks of registered nurses and promote the mental health and emotional well-being of nurses, as well as to provide a nurse-to-nurse peer support helpline.

 “As the COVID-19 pandemic showed, nurses are an indispensable part of our healthcare system. They work long, hard and stressful hours, so stressful that many suffer from workplace burnout, and may leave the profession. We must act now to shore up our nursing ranks, by creating more nursing education spots at our colleges, putting in place supports to help us keep qualified nurses and CNAs, and also by putting in place more supports for their emotional health,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex), Chair of the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Staffing shortages for nurses and CNAs are projected to grow even more dire in coming years, and we need to be prepared.”

Among the new initiatives, one would require the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing (NJCCN) to support the establishment of additional nurse residency programs around the state. A second would create a “Nursing School Expansion Grant Program” in the EDA to support the creation of additional nursing education spots, while a third would require hospitals to establish Nurse Workplace Environment and Staffing Councils.

The bill would also create a preceptor tax credit program, codify the NJ Nursing Emotional Well-Being Institute in the NJ Collaborating Center for Nursing, and require reporting from the Department of Health, the Board of Nursing, and our nursing education programs to better track the nursing workforce. 

 The bill was released from committee by a vote of 7-0.