Md. moves to ease nursing shortage

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday a number of steps to boost the state’s nursing workforce, allowing nurses registered out of state to work in Maryland and encouraging nursing programs to speed up graduation for qualified nursing students.

The moves come as the state faces a nursing shortage, particularly at hospitals, officials say.

The measures also come as the state has seen a rise in hospitalized COVID-19 patients over the past month driven by the more infectious delta variant. But Hogan said the state is still managing the pandemic better than many other states.

“This week, Maryland reported the nation’s lowest COVID-19 case rate, and we continue to withstand the Delta variant surge better than just about any other state,” Hogan said in a statement. “While our hospitalizations remain well below all of our pandemic surge capacity triggers, we are taking proactive steps to maximize the ability of our hospitals to increase their nursing workforce.”

Among the steps Hogan announced: Registered nurses or licensed practical nurses who hold out-of-state licenses are allowed to render nursing care in Maryland, under a notice issued by Maryland Health Secretary Dennis Schrader. The governor’s office said the move is supported by the Maryland Board of Nursing.

Another effort allows for “early exits” for nursing students.

Maryland Higher Education Commission Secretary James D. Fielder wrote to the leaders of state nursing programs, asking them to consider steps that would allow nursing students to more quickly finish their program of study and sit for nursing exams sooner. One option is shortening the final four to six weeks of the semester by transitioning to more intensive full-day class sessions, according to a letter sent from Fields.

“We ask that you seriously consider any adjustments that do not compromise the integrity of your nursing program and allows students to enter into the workforce as quickly as possible,” Fields wrote.

In addition, Schrader also wrote a letter to the state’s hospital and nursing home leaders laying out additional flexibilities they have at their disposal.

He encouraged hospital leaders to work with local nursing programs to ensure that hospitals use student nurses where feasible and also encouraged hospital leaders to actively recruit nursing staff from other states that have signed on to the Nursing Licensure Compact that allows registered nurses licensed in one state to practice in multiple states.

Nursing students are also authorized to perform the tasks of certified nursing assistants as long as they are supervised and physician assistant students can practice without a license.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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