The nurse is a key Figure on the health-care team and a major link between the patient and an increasingly complex health-care system. Today's nurses are being called upon to provide more and better care to a rapidly growing population. In the face of such demands the present nursing shortage constitutes a critical national problem.
The Division of Nursing serves as a focal point in the Federal Government for alleviating this shortage. Its twin goals are to increase the number of well-trained registered nurses in practice and to improve the quality of care nurses give patients.
As presently constituted, the Division was established in 1960 by merging two predecessor groups - the Division of Public Health Nursing and the Division of Nursing Resources. Since 1968, the Division has been a component of the Bureau of Health Professions Education and Manpower Training of the National Instututes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland. NIH is an agency of the Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).
The functions of the Division of Nursing are carried out by a headquarters staff, nurse consultants in each of the ten HEW regions throughout the country, and a Nursing Research Field Center in San Francisco. Through work of this staff, the Division continually assesses nursing needs and conducts a balanced program to improve education, practice, service, and research.
One of the most important parts of the Division's program is the administration of a special law enacted in 1964 for the improvement of nursing education. The law authorizes financial support for constructing and renovating nursing schools, improving educational programs, recruiting and training nurses, updating nurses' skills, and training nurses to become teachers, supervisors, administrators, and clinical specialists.
Assistance to students is authorized through Nursing Scholarships and Nursing Loans, and Professional Nurse Traineeships.
Assistance to schools is authorized through Construction Grants, Special Project Grants, and Institutional (Formula) Grants. Special Project Grants are awarded to strengthen and expand nursing education; institutional grants are intended to subsidize the schools of nursing and assist them to improve or maintain adequate faculty/student ratios, attract qualified faculty, and strengthen the basic curriculum.
Division nurse consultants assist State and local areas to plan and develop nursing educational programs and nursing services geared to the needs of the communities. They also assist hospitals and related institutions to find ways to improve utilization of nurses' skills and improve patient care. Consultation is also provided to assist potential participants in the various grant programs administered by the Division.
The Division conducts national surveys on the number, location, characteristics, and availability of nurses. Such information, as well as data on the economic aspects of nursing practice and service, enables the Division, local communities, and others to plan for future nursing needs and better use of facilities and resources.
The Division sponsor's research and research training in all aspects of nursing practice, nursing educational programs, organization and delivery of nursing services to patients, and nursing as an occupation. Research awards also support studies in various medical and other specialties to obtain information relevant to nursing care and closely related health problems.
The Division produces publications, exhibits, and audiovisual materials describing its programs and the results of its varied activities. It also supports conferences on the communication of research findings. Published material includes teaching manuals, nurse censuses, and reports on nursing needs and resources. Single free copies of these publications are available upon request from:
Division of Nursing
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland 20014