Legislation takes steps to address state’s nursing shortage

Easier to accept nurses from other states, expedite licensing, remove caps from degrees

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Sen. Robby Mills (R-Henderson) was joined by Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester), Sen. Donald Douglas, M.D. (R-Nicholasville) and Sen. Ralph Alvarado, M.D. (R-Winchester) during a press conference Tuesday afternoon to announce Senate Bill 10 (SB 10) which they hope will be a step toward addressing the state’s nursing shortage.

The nursing shortage is not a new challenge to the Commonwealth, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to sponsor this critical piece of legislation,” Mills said. “I’ve had an opportunity to speak with nursing students and leaders of community colleges back in my district. The nursing shortage has the potential to negatively impact each of us and those we love. This bill will help make sure our health care facilities are professionally equipped to care for Kentuckians during moments of need.”

SB 10 aims to alleviate the nursing shortage by tackling several issues, making it easier to accept nurses from other states and expedite licensing while not sacrificing quality of care.

One area of focus includes the removal of arbitrary caps on nursing education programs. This codifies and extends provisions of the governor’s executive order.

The Interim Joint Committee on Health, Welfare and Family Services reviewed the nursing shortage extensively last summer, hearing from the Kentucky Board of Nursing. Alvarado is a pediatrician and co-chair of the IJC on Health, Welfare and Family Services.

“I think this bill is going to help us restructure how things are done and remove artificial barriers to allowing our educational institutions to determine how many people they can train,” Alvarado said. “If another pandemic were to hit, it would make us more prepared for it.”

SB 10 would restructure the KBN to be more reflective of Kentucky’s geographical diversity and most importantly bolster the voices of practicing nurses by requiring 10 board members be practicing nurses, giving practicing nurses a real voice in the process.

Additionally, the bill implements legislative oversight of nominations by requiring Senate confirmation of members.

There have been collaborative efforts between lawmakers, the KBN and other stakeholders.

Two significant provisions of the bill include reciprocity so more nurses from other states can practice in Kentucky. Kentucky currently has a compact with 24 states for reciprocity, but SB 10 opens possibilities for nurses in states beyond the compact. Nurses from non-compact states who are in good standing can get an immediate temporary work permit to go straight to work. The bill would recognize out-of-state licenses and create a process for foreign trained nurses who pass the National Council Licensure Examination test or a Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools Test to practice in Kentucky.

Dr. Donald Douglas is the lead medical doctor at the Tony Delk IMAC Regeneration Center and is father of three daughters, each graduates with medical degrees.

“One of my favorite elements of the bill is the input received from professionals in private practice,” Dr. Douglas said. “It’s important we support a nursing industry conducive to letting these professionals provide the care they are passionate to provide,” said Douglas. Reducing regulatory burden without sacrificing the quality of care is the goal we should strive for because we want to keep and attract high quality professionals.”

If it is ultimately filed with the Secretary of State’s office, SB 10 will become enacted law immediately.

“I think we’ve come up with a good product, working with various institutions and entities and discussing with the public how we increase the nurses in this state to provide medical services,” said Douglas.

Categories: Featured, Local News, News, State News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *