Nevada looking at nursing compact

Published: Apr. 26, 2018 at 6:02 PM PDT
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October 1, 2017. A gunman opens up on an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people, and wounding 851.

The governor issued an emergency order on certain rules and regulations that allows nurses from other states to come to Nevada to help with medical care.

"I had multiple calls from nurses in other states wanting to come. But because we weren't part of the compact they would actually have to go and get a license in Nevada. We turned it around fairly quickly but it could still take a few days. Well, in a few days, your episode, your disaster, your event, could be over," says Cathy Dinauer, Executive Director of Nevada State Board of Nursing.

The "compact" Dinauer is talking about is the Nursing Licensure Compact. Currently there are 29 states involved in this compact. It means a nurse who has a license in any of these 29 states can go to any other state in the compact and practice--without having to have an additional license.

A map of the current compact members shows Nevada isn't participating.

The reason? Nurses involved in the compact did not have to undergo a background check.

"Our mission is to protect the public. And a background check is vital. It is important. And it is required in Nevada," says Dinauer.

But this year that rule has changed. Now all nurses participating in the compact will undergo a background check, which Dinauer says will prompt the Nevada State Board of Nursing to back a bill allowing Nevada nurses to be part of the compact.

For Nevada nurses who want to participate, it will mean they will need only a Nevada license to practice in other participating states.

No longer will they have to pay for and update any licenses they may have from another participating state. At Northern Nevada Medical Center, the chief nursing officer says if Nevada becomes a participant in the compact, she believes Nevada stands a better chance of getting traveling nurses to stay put.

"One way or another we have captured, I'm sure, probably 70% of our travelers as full-time staff," says Carla Adams, chief nursing officer at NNMC

A nursing compact would have to be introduced in the 2019 Nevada Legislature, pass in both houses, and signed by a new governor.

The regulations would have to be drawn up by the nursing board to comply with the Nursing Licensure Compact.