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Nurse Shortages in Florida Might Be Reduced By New Multi-State License

February 16, 2018

This article got a lot of response when I posted it on my Facebook page recently.  Would you like up to the minute news of things happening in Southwest Florida then make sure you ‘friend’ my business page on Facebook.  Nurses are always in demand and with our aging population it makes sense that we need more here especially in the winter months.  I recently sold a condo to a nurse who works up north in the summer to be near this family and then in Naples for six months and his family visits to get out of the cold!  He can also play golf every day.  This might be a great incentive to attract more nurses to our area.

Courtesy Naples Daily News February 2018

 

Florida nurses can apply now for a multi-state license, which might boost their employment options.

In turn, the state’s decision to make it easier for out-of-state nurses to come to Florida could reduce workforce shortages, especially during the busier winter months.

Florida legislators in 2016 passed a law to join a program known as the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact, or eNLC, which allows nurses to be licensed in the 26 states that are part of the compact.

The application process began Friday, Jan. 19. Florida nurses in good standing with their licenses can apply to convert to a multi-state status, and newcomers to the state will be issued a multi-state license, according to the Florida Board of Nursing.

The multi-state program is for licensed practical nurses and registered nurses, and not for advanced registered nurse practitioners.

The goal is to reduce the regulatory requirements of separate licenses for different states, which has meant paperwork and costly fees.Dozens of industry groups support multi-state licensure, said Willa Fuller, executive director of the Florida Nurses Association, a professional association based in Orlando.

“It’s a big deal,” she said. “It gives them more freedom.”

Employers increasingly are doing federal criminal background checks, and the license compact program addresses disciplinary matters, she said.

Southwest Florida hospitals say the state’s decision to join the multi-state license program is a good move for many reasons.

“It can absolutely help address our need for nurses, especially in season,” said Marti Van Veen, spokeswoman for Physicians Regional Healthcare System in Collier County, which operates two hospitals and numerous outpatient-care settings.

“It will make it much easier for nurses to come to work in Florida, where the weather is much nicer than the Northern states during the winter,” Van Veen said.

“We think it could definitely help in recruiting,” she said, “as Florida during the winter may appeal to nurses in other states that are part of the compact.”

Physicians Regional employs 500 nurses, and the the bulk of them are registered nurses, she said. The current vacancy rate is low, at less than one-half of 1 percent.

The ease with which nurses will be able to cross state lines for jobs will not be disruptive to internal job orientation, which occurs year-round, Van Veen said.

Likewise, there is not a concern about a surge in staff nurses pursuing seasonal work.

“Travel seasonal nursing isn’t for everyone,” Van Veen said. “It will make it easier for those who like working in different parts of the country on a seasonal basis.”

Under the licensure compact program, nurses are required to adhere to the nurse practice laws and rules of the state in which they acquired the license, according to the state nursing board.

The NCH Healthcare System, which operates two hospitals and multiple outpatient practices in Collier, is pleased the state joined the multi-state compact, said Renee Thigpen, chief human resources officer for NCH.

It will eliminate delays in start dates that NCH has faced for license approval for new hires from other states.

Multi-state licensure also might address vacancies and the need for seasonal nurses during the busy winter months, she said. NCH has about 1,000 registered nurses and 270 seasonal nurses.

“We are very excited about it,” she said.

Thigpen has not heard any staff nurses talking about getting a multi-state license; the appeal will be for those who are considering a relocation. She doesn’t anticipate nurses will pursue a multi-state license for the sole purpose of moving to states where salaries are higher.

“They would really have to be thinking about relocating,” she said.

The multi-state licensure agreement will help Lee Health with its need for nurses, said Lisa Sgarlata, chief nurse executive. With five hospital locations, Lee Health has 3,080 registered nurses in bedside roles and 235 licensed practical nurses.

Local nurses are not likely to look at the multi-state license as means for higher incomes in other states, said Denise McNulty, director of nursing at Ave Maria University in eastern Collier.

That’s because the salary gap between Southwest Florida and markets elsewhere for nurses has been closing over the past decade, and local employers had to become more competitive, McNulty said.

“Now we are attracting a lot of talent from the Northeast,” she said.

The multi-state licensure program will be good for the region, in part because Southwest Florida is a destination for a nice lifestyle, McNulty said.

She doesn’t expect an exodus of nurses from the area, beyond what occurs now for any number of reasons.

“A percentage of our workforce will always be transient,” she said.

The other states in the enhanced nurse licensure compact program are: Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

State Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, was one of the sponsors of the Florida bill to join the multi-state license network.

“This compact will give our nurses the flexibility they need to perform their high-demand services,” she said in a news release. “We are also ensuring standards are preserved while removing hurdles to first-class care.”