New Ga. law to repay nurses’ student loans aims to help nursing shortage

The bill focuses on helping those nurses and healthcare workers repay their student loans.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 11:16 PM EDT
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TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) - Georgia currently has a very high demand for nurses. According to state leaders, the state is currently experiencing a severe shortage.

The shortage is impacting not just current nurses, but also people that rely on nurses.

Sarah Clay, a cardiac nurse at Pheobe Putney Memorial Hospital, said excessive wait times in the emergency room have been a major challenge across the nation due to short-staffed medical centers. Several medical professionals told WALB that medical centers are having high turnover rates due to burnout.

“The wait times are long. A lot of times, we can’t even send you up to the floor that you need to go to because either they don’t have adequate staffing to take care of another person being brought up, or it’s actually full and we don’t have a bed. It’s really that bad.” Clay said.

Nurses are seeing an influx of non-emergency cases in the emergency room. They say it’s another reason for those extreme wait times.

Healthcare professionals recommend staying up to date with your regular primary doctor to potentially limit emergency room visits. Those with heart and breathing complications should prioritize it.

Healthcare workers around the state are celebrating a new law that could help keep nurses in the state. A new law will help certain nurses and instructors repay college loans.

The bill states that nursing facility members with at least a master’s degree in nursing are eligible. This incentive is their way to keep nursing instructors keep teaching instead of leaving the profession.

The bill also states that those already employed for at least a year in a nursing program at a University System of Georgia or a Technical College System of Georgia can get up to $100,000 in student loan repayments over the course of five years.

“That will lift the ultimate burden because that’s a burden, a lot of people don’t go and won’t go because they know that going to school for anything healthcare you are going to rack up a nice bill,” Clay said.

Educating individuals at an early age about nursing benefits is a tactic several technical college instructors believe should be implemented across the board for nursing students’ recruitment.

Almost one-third of the nursing workforce could be retiring in the next decade, according to the National Institute of Health. Health professionals say they are worried about the future of healthcare.

The talk about new incentives has been a priority in several healthcare facilities to combat the many challenges healthcare workers face daily.