Dear friends and neighbors,
One issue that’s been flying a bit under the radar this session but is hugely consequential for all of us has to do with nursing – we just don’t have enough nurses in Washington state to provide all the care that people need. Most nurses are way overworked right now (and that’s on the heels of a couple very difficult COVID years they’ve just been through), hospitals and healthcare providers are struggling financially, and patients are suffering as a result. We’ve got to do better.
When we look at expanding our nursing workforce, we’ve got go at the challenge from two sides – we need to support the nurses and nurses-in-training already here in Washington state, and we should bring in more nurses from other states to work for us. I’ve got bills for both of those. SB 5498 would have state government and hospitals put money into a fund, matching each other’s contributions so the impact gets doubled, and use that money to help pay off the student loans for nurses working here in Washington. That helps keep nurses on the job in our state and attracts more future nurses to the profession.
My other bill, SB 5499, would help cut the red tape for nurses from other states who want to come work here in Washington. There are 37 states that are all part of what’s called the “Nurse Licensure Compact,” where getting a certain set of certifications, background checks, and so forth, means you can work in any of those states. Meanwhile, here in Washington, we make nurses coming from out of state go through a ton of extra bureaucracy. I think we should join the interstate compact so we can attract more nurses from the rest of the country, and my bill would do that.
The loan repayment bill got heard in committee this week, and the interstate compact bill will get a hearing next week. I took a couple minutes to go out in the sun and record my short weekly video outside the Capitol today, and I talked about these two bills. You can watch and share it here.
Feel free to share your thoughts and feedback on this issue – it’s an important one and I really want us to get it right. You can reach me at Mark.Mullet@leg.wa.gov and I’d love to hear your thoughts about nursing and healthcare, or anything else for that matter. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!