New Ala. law lets nurses work across state lines with compact license

Supporters say the law could help with the state’s nursing shortage

New Ala. law lets nurses work across state lines with compact license
A new Alabama law will allow nurses who don’t have an Alabama nursing license to work anyway with a multi-state license. (Source: Lydia Nusbaum)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A new Alabama law will allow nurses who don’t have an Alabama nursing license to work anyway with a multi-state license. Supporters said it could help with the state’s nursing shortage.

“So that nurse-patient ratios are less and there is more individualized attention for patients, so this is phenomenal for nurses in Alabama but for our patients as well,” said Dr. Sarah Wilkinson-Buchmann with the Alabama State Nurses Association.

Before the law, a nurse needed to get an Alabama nursing license before the state would allow them to work. Because of this, the Alabama Board of Nursing said employers find it difficult to hire travel or temporary nurses because many are unwilling to get another license.

The law does not go into effect until Aug. 1. The Alabama Board of Nursing said licenses will be will not be issued until Jan. 1, 2020.

This new law allows Alabama to opt into the Nurse Licensure Compact. Alabama is the 32nd state to adopt the compact.

The Board of Nursing said this would help rural hospitals fill nursing positions. It would also allow nurses to immediately cross state lines to help in emergency situations.

“If there is an emergency in the state for which more health care providers and nurses are needed, then nurses can come into the state and assist during times of emergencies,” Wilkinson-Buchmann said.

There are around 99,000 nurses in Alabama.

Gov. Kay Ivey showcased the new law at a bill signing ceremony Thursday morning. Other new laws include one regulating vaping devices and another requiring all passengers wear seat belts. Another large piece of legislation requires the governor appoint a Director of Pardons and Paroles.

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