Nevada legislators expected to address nursing shortage in upcoming session

Nevada legislators expected to address nursing shortage in upcoming session

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Nevada legislative session will be underway on Monday, and the state’s nursing shortage will likely be a major topic of discussion.

Lawmakers are already considering new ways to retain and attract talent to the Silver State.

Alreeze Crystal Mercado said she knows the severity of the shortage all too well, as three of her grandparents were fighting for their lives after contracting COVID-19 during the pandemic.

“I can just see that it was tough for the nursing, caring for them and for me, I wanted to be able to be part of that,” Mercado said.

Mercado changed careers and went from being a California teacher to a student in Nevada after enrolling in the Arizona College of Nursing — Las Vegas.

“They’re really trying their best to care for other people’s families that are not even their own,” Mercado said.

The Nevada Health Association reported that the state is short more than 7,500 nurses, and time is of the essence.

“We’re on the cusp of something pretty big,” Dean of Nursing at the college Dr. Jill Rankin said.

A recent study indicated that by 2023, 1 million registered nurses in the United States are set to retire.

“We need to be able to ebb and flow across the country to areas of crisis,” Doctor of Nursing Practice with the Nevada Nursing Association Diane McGinnis said.

McGinnis said the NNA would like Nevada to enter the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact, which allows out of state nurses to help when needed and make recruiting easier.

Accelerated nursing programs like the one Mercado attends could also be a solution.

Dr. Rankin is the dean at Mercado’s college and said she’s seen an increase in enrollment, but there is another issue facing nurses.

“We do see that nursing education has not met the demand of the need, also,” Dr. Rankin said.

Without educators, it is tough for the solution to fix the problem.

“To be able to help and be a part of that change, to be able to serve other people’s families and care for them and be able to provide, what I would want [is] my family to be cared for,” Mercado added.

The NNA said the state needs at least 4,000 nurses to meet the national average.

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