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05-19-04, 01:37 PM
Nurse Commission Recommends Strategies on Recruitment

WASHINGTON (May 17, 2004) - Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J.
Principi has accepted recommendations from a blue-ribbon commission that
looked at issues affecting the nurses of the Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) -- from recruitment and education to retention and pay.

"The panel's recommendations provide a springboard for our success in
answering the concerns of VA nurses, who are the spirit and soul of our
Department's noble and time-honored mission," Principi said. "The
commission's report establishes the organizational, legislative and cultural
tools by which VA can make a difference in the lives of our nurses."

The commission studied leadership, professional development, compensation,
technology, respect and recognition, work environment, and research for VA
nursing personnel. The panel's proposals included:

* Strengthen line authority and accountability for facility nurse
executives;

* Support nursing education guidelines comparable to medical education
guidelines;

* Establish nationwide staffing standards that ensure adequate
nursing resources;

* Improve recognition of achievement and performance;

* Support legislation to ensure competitive locality pay for
registered nurses; and

* Establish a Center for Excellence in Quality Nursing Care.

"VA and Congress must allocate resources to strengthen the ability of local
facilities to attract and retain a qualified nursing work force," said Linda
Burnes Bolton, chairperson of the National Commission on VA Nursing.

With many VA nurses approaching retirement age, Congress created the
12-member commission, in part, to ensure VA had the financial and
professional incentives to attract and retain a qualified work force.