UPDATE | Senate Bill 166 could help with local nurse shortage

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News 12 NBC 26 News At 11 | Thursday, March 2, 2017

MGN/Wiki Commons: Nursing Photo

UPDATE | 11:45 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Hospitals in our area need to hire around 700 nurses to make sure your family gets the care they need when they need it and a new bill that just passed Georgia's Senate could help.

25 states across the country allow registered nurses to have one license that works in multiple states, but Georgia is not included in that system while South Carolina is. Augusta University officials are saying this bill could help put Georgia's new and experienced nurses on the map.

It's the first thing folks coming across the 13th Street Bridge from North Augusta see when they cross the river into Augusta - "The grass is always greener on our side." It's a message from Aiken Regional Medical Center showcasing the medical staff on Aiken County's side of the Savannah.

But Dr. Lucy Marion with Augusta University hopes a new Georgia Bill could make one nursing requirement the same on both sides of the river - Senate Bill 166. The bill, recently passed in the Georgia State Senate, would allow registered nurses across Georgia to carry and use one multi-state license through an "enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact."

"The biggest problem that this will fix," Dr. Marion says, "will be to remove that barrier of mobility so that nurses can move from state to state and take their services beyond the state through other means of the side person to person, such as with the tele-medicine and tele-health."

The bill would allow Georgia's nurses to be automatically licensed in any of the other 25 states that also accept multi-state licenses, including South Carolina, sidestepping a license process that could takes weeks or even months. Dr. Marion says the medical world continues to evolve thanks to tele-medicine and nurses have keep up with these new advances.

"Of course, mobility to Georgia is a big draw," Dr. Marion says, "but indeed our graduates may live in Georgia but work in South Carolina. Then they work in tele-health and they may need to counsel somebody in Illinois. And they have much need to take their skills beyond where the state they are licensed in, where that state is. Many of them are supervising students and South Carolina. We can't supervise students in South Carolina unless we are licensed in Georgia and South Carolina."

The bill would allow nurses to quickly cross state lines and provide services in emergency situations, such as a natural disaster. It also removes expenses for healthcare professionals along with organizations who employ nurses that require multiple licenses.

But Dr. Marion, who's been around hospitals for five decades, says this bill could also help with a shortage of experienced nurses. She says while the university has increased their number of graduated, the amount of medical services provided across the area has increased as well.

"We have a major in nursing shortage in the CSRA. We could use 500, 700 more nurses in this area," Dr. Marion says. "We have several hospitals, we are expecting a new hospital. And this compact will help us as we were coming from other parts of the country to come here. That is a factor for us. That's why we want to make this change."

Dr. Marion says drawing more experienced nurses here, as the demand grows higher, will help keep Augusta's side of the river competitive. She says it's a goal to give nurses a little more mobility with hospitals all across the area.

"It will level the playing field some, it could," Dr. Marion says. "That would certainly be one of the goals."

The bill would also allow hospitals to keep track of nurses with a multi-state license and track any shortages across the region. Dr. Marion says the potential new law could help expand the university's reach to nurses across the country, which she says is a big boost to the region.

The bill is now heading to Georgia's State House for consideration.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Senate Bill 166, which allows registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to have one multi-state license through an enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact, passed in the senate this week.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, along with Senator Renee Unterman, Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, led the passage.

SB 166 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“Georgia’s nurses are often the first line of care when we require medical attention,” said Lt. Governor Cagle.

The bill would allow RNs and LPNs to practice in Georgia along with the 25 member states under one multi-state license. This reform enables nurses to practice in person or provide telehealth services to patients across the nation, according to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

If signed into law, this bill would also allow nurses to quickly cross state lines and provide vital services in the event of a disaster.

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