THE dramatic breakthroughs in medical and health research will be of little value if skilled personnel are not available when patients need them.
Today, our needs for physicians, dentists, nurses, sanitarians, and other professional and technical health workers outstrip both our current supply and present educational capacity:
--Long waiting periods for medical and dental care are common.
--Hospital beds remain empty for lack of staff.
--Our air and water are polluted--and we are short of trained experts to combat these plagues.
--One university is already phasing out its dental school program; another may be forced to close within a year.
--Several medical schools require special assistance if they are to remain open.
In the past 5 years, we have begun to act to remedy these conditions.
Students have received loans and other financial assistance to enable them to prepare for health careers. New schools have opened their doors, and others have significantly expanded their facilities. Schools have been assisted in strengthening their teaching programs so that students they are training are realistically prepared to provide health care.
This bill I am signing today authorizes not only the continuation of these programs but their acceleration.
The Health Manpower Act of 1968 will extend and strengthen these laws which are due to expire June 30, 1969:
--the Health Professions Educational Assistance Act of 1963, as amended;
--the Nurse Training Act of 1964;
--the Allied Health Professions Personnel Training Act of 1966;
--the Health Research Facilities Act of 1965, as amended;
--the authorities of sections 306 and 309 of the Public Health Service Act for public health traineeships and for project grants for graduate and specialized training in public health.
This legislation will mean more new schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, and the other health professions, and more space in existing schools.
It will mean additional authority to assist schools that are in serious financial straits.
It will mean that institutions will be better able to plan and establish new programs.
It will mean that students will be helped to complete their training in the various health professions. Particularly, it provides realistic scholarship support for students of nursing. This assistance is of utmost importance in giving opportunity to able students from families of limited income.
This is a major measure in our battle for better health. It will strengthen our efforts to prepare today those who must serve us tomorrow.