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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Recognizing National Nurses Week

August 4, 2009
Floor Statement
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: Madam Speaker, I rise in support of House Resolution 192--Recognizing National Nurses Week. I'd like to particularly thank my colleague Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas for offering this resolution, and to honor my colleagues Representative Lois Capps of California and Representative Carolyn McCarthy of New York, three Members of Congress who worked as nurses before holding public office and who continue to be strong advocates for nurses and patients.

The men and women who work as nurses in the United States are some of the most important--but also some of the most unsung--heroes who serve in our communities. We all probably have a personal story about a nurse who either cared for us or a close family member or friend during a time of need. They are superb in their skill sets; tender in the care they provide; and deserving of our utmost respect.

When you become a nurse, the conventional wisdom and continuing tradition is that you go into the field because you have a genuine interest in and passion for helping those in need. You don't do it for the money; you don't do it for the glamour; and you certainly don't do it for the hours.

But it's time to encourage men and women to pursue a career in nursing by showing them that we respect and value the careers of the approximate 3 million nurses across America. We can do this by increasing pay for nurses and by making nursing education more affordable and more accessible.

We're facing an unprecedented nursing shortage across this country that could lead to a shortfall of up to 500,000 nurses by 2025. And nursing isn't a job that can be downsized or outsourced. That is why I support the inclusion of $215 million for the Nursing Workforce Development program in the Fiscal Year 2010 budget and why I worked to help secure $500 million in the stimulus package for training programs for primary care providers, including nurses.

In my own district in California I fought to keep the Registered Nursing Program alive and funded at L.A. Southwest College, and am happy to announce that this year they will receive a $285,000 appropriation to improve nursing education through state-of-the-art technology.

Nurses are a precious asset we cannot afford to be without.

With major health care reform on the horizon, we must remember that nurses will be at the center of any meaningful reform. Let us honor their service, their dedication, and their profession by passing this resolution.