Alabama legislators introduced two bills Tuesday that could allow the state to join the nationwide Nursing Licensure Compact, according to data from Legiscan.
House Rep. April Weaver and Sen. Gregg Reed pre-filed and introduced House Bill 44 and Senate Bill 38, respectively, during the first special session of 2019. Both bills were referred to House and Senate health committees for further discussion.
If approved, Alabama would become the 32nd state to join the Nursing Licensure Compact, which allows for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to practice in multiple states without having to apply for a single-state license.
It would also allow Alabama nurses easier access to jobs across state lines, as Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee are all members of the Nursing Licensure Compact.
The Alabama Board of Nursing voiced support for the compact license legislation last Thursday on social media and in their organization’s newsletter, stating that the board decided to pursue the legislation after “very intense, detailed analysis” last September.
“This was not an easy decision, as the Board was careful to pay special attention to protecting Alabama’s regulatory prerogatives and to ensure that Compact participation would not negatively impact patient care in the state,” the newsletter statement reads. “The Board is honored to recognize Representative April Weaver, RN (R-Alabaster) and Senator Greg Reed (R-Jasper) for sponsoring the historic bills (House Bill 44 and Senate Bill 38) that would enact the Compact in Alabama.
Part of the reason the board wants this legislation to pass is because of the growing nursing shortage in Alabama, according to the statement.
Analysts project Alabama will have a surplus of nurses by 2030, according to a 2017 labor study by the Health Resources and Services Administration, but healthcare leaders in the state say they are having problems finding and retaining nurses.
Many Alabama healthcare leaders have pointed to common factors affecting the nursing shortage at a national level, including higher demand with an aging population and workforce, a lack of available educators to train more new nurses faster, and issues with pay and working conditions.
Alabama is on the lower end for compensation—the average nursing salary in the state is $57,890, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. This also includes travel nursing pay, where the average contract ranges from $1,400-1,500 weekly, according to the most recent StaffDNA job board data.
Despite this, Alabama remains a fairly popular destination for travelers, and nursing professionals in the state have said travel nursing is also a factor contributing to staff retention issues, according to a WFSA 12 report.
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