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FY 2020 defense appropriations bill supports nurses training in American Samoa

American Samoa Dept. of Health logo
Source: U.S. Senate Report Sept. 2019

Washington, D.C. — On Thursday, Sept. 12th, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee 
approved the FY 2020 defense appropriations bill. The bill now goes to the full senate for consideration, and is expected to be signed into law in the next few months.

The bill contains the following language for American Samoa: 

Nurse Training in American Samoa. — The Committee recognizes that the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences [USUHS] is utilizing American Samoa as a training site for its graduate nursing students. The territory is noted for having the highest rate of military enlistment of any U.S. state or territory, and the clinical experience in a remote, resource-challenging environment assists in preparation for the future demands placed on military nurses. Therefore, the Committee encourages the USUHS to continue and expand its training program for nursing students in American Samoa.

In 2015, Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lt. Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga asked the Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences whether it was willing to help American Samoa build local capacity of its nursing workforce. USUHS entered into an MOU with the Office of Governor and the Department of Health community health clinics, to assign active duty Registered Nurses to the community health clinics to help serve the territory’s residents as well as receive training from working in a underserved area.

This initiative is the only USUHS program of its kind in any of the U.S. territories. To date, six cohorts of USUHS graduate nurse practitioner students have worked in all the community health centers in American Samoa. The nurses focus on family practice in a primary care setting.

USUHS hopes to expand the time period its students can serve in the territory as well as add medical students in future assignments.