The Washington State Senate today passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) to have Washington join the national Nurse Licensure Compact.

The Nurse Licensure Compact is an agreement between 37 states on a single multistate nursing license, so that someone licensed to be a nurse in any one of the member states can work as a nurse in any of the other states in the compact. Currently, Washington has its own nurse license that requires specific paperwork and examinations. Mullet’s bill, SB 5499, would enter Washington state into the compact and allow nurses with the multistate license to work here.

“We know we need a strong workforce of nurses to provide the care that patients need,” said Mullet. “We educate and train our own nurses here in Washington, but this bill will make it so much easier to also attract well-qualified nurses from other states. Washington would have some of the highest nurse salaries of any state in the compact, so I expect we’re going to be able to get a lot of additional nurses coming here from other states.”

The bill passed alongside SB 5236, sponsored by Sen. June Robinson (D-Everett), which strengthens enforcement of nurse staffing plans to ensure that hospitals have enough nurses on staff to provide quality care for patients and reduce burnout and stress on health care workers.

“These bills go hand-in-hand,” said Mullet. “Raising the staffing levels in our hospitals is a great idea, but if we’re going to require hospitals to hire a ton more nurses, we need to make sure there are enough nurses available to be hired. Joining the national compact means we can actually supply the nurses necessary to make all this work so that patients get the quality care they need.”

The legislation now goes to the House for consideration.