Nevada nurses call for changes to bring out-of-state workers, proposal sparks debate

Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 1:20 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Nevada needs thousands of nurses for its booming population and many are calling for change to get more workers into the state.

The Nevada State Board of Nursing estimates that the state lacks more than 4,000 nurses.

Assembly Bill 108 would enter Nevada into the Nurse Licensure Compact: close to 40 states have entered, allowing states to freely move and work in those states without applying for a new license.

Nurses who wish to move to and work in Nevada can obtain a temporary license in a matter of days. It can take two months for a permanent license. While some describe the process and the fee as unnecessary “red tape,” other nurses told an Assembly committee that the process delayed a start date for work.

Imelda Reyes, UNLV School of Nursing’s Associate Dean of Advanced Education, practices in student health. Reyes went through the same process and described it as “cumbersome.”

“Because of shortages, there are nurses out there that may have higher patient [numbers] that they’re having to care for, because we simply don’t have the workforce to meet the needs,” Reyes said.

Workers, medical facilities and other schools voiced support. A number of other nurses and various unions voiced opposition, with concerns about how the compact could affect working conditions and bargaining power.

“We have nurses who do not want to go back to bedside because of conditions set up of employers,” said Renee Ruiz of National Nurses United.

“Healthcare workers are working 12-14 patients a day and seeing 10 patients an hour. The pandemic exacerbated burnout,” Grace Vergara-Mactal of SEIU LOCAL 1107, is concerned that employers are not addressing the root issue.