Labor Department boosts $80M in new grants to fund training nurses

The Biden administration is doling out an additional $80 million in new funding to support nurse training programs to help stave off a critical staffing shortage roiling through the healthcare industry. 

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced Monday $80 million in funding through the Nursing Expansion Grant Program with an emphasis on increasing workforce diversity and equity in underserved communities. 

“Many healthcare workers, nurses among them, have worked around the clock throughout the pandemic to care for those in need and save countless lives, often while risking their own health and well-being," said DOL Secretary Marty Walsh in a statement. “Today, they face diminished ranks of colleagues to help shoulder these burdens as patients continue to depend on them.”

The DOL pointed to the need for more than 275,000 additional nurses from 2020 through 2030 and said employment opportunities will grow by nearly 10%, according to a release on the grant funding. 

The grants will emphasize training new nurses from historically marginalized and underrepresented populations to create greater equity. The grants are part of a larger effort by the Biden administration to close equity gaps, including introducing new quality measures and requirements to collect data on race and ethnicity. 

Applicants for the grants must propose training programs that create new models to “attract workers, unions, workers organizations and employers while building partnerships with community-based organizations and training institutions,” the DOL said in a release. 

A major staffing crunch exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a nursing crisis across the hospital industry. Several for- and nonprofit systems have reported losses due to higher rates to take on contract labor. 

A recent survey of more than 1,200 hospitals found that more and more facilities are offering bonuses and higher salaries to keep and recruit employees due to concerns of a sustained shortage.