NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) – Right now, if you want to be a nurse and work in both Kentucky and Indiana, you need two licenses.
Medical leaders around the region say this is a common-sense measure to make working on both sides of the Ohio easy. Kentucky is already a part of the interstate compact and now, Indiana leaders are pushing to do the same.
Around 750 nurses work at Baptist Health Floyd in New Albany, helping take care of patients. No matter what side of the river they live on, they need an Indiana license to work at the busy hospital.
“I am a nurse in good standing, but it may take me six to eight weeks to get a license in a non-compact state,” said Linda Minton, Director of Emergency and Women’s Services at Baptist Health Floyd.
The time and cost of needing a license for both states is inconvenient, Minton said. A bill that would rectify that is making its way through the Indiana House and Senate. If it passes, it would allow Indiana to join dozens of other states in the interstate nursing licensure compact.
Minton said it’s a simple concept, similar to a driver’s license. You only need one from one state and it covers you in all states, she said, and this could work in a similar way.
“A lot of nurses have two jobs,” Minton said. "They work both in Louisville and in southern Indiana, or they work in the west side of the state and try to cross state lines. It will allow hospitals more flexibility, it will decrease or negate the time it takes for someone to get a license. That compact would allow those Kentucky nurses who want to work on this side of the river a lot easier mechanism to be able to do that, to cross state lines.”
It would give nurses more flexibillity and better fill nursing jobs where there are often shortages. The need in the community is one reason why Greater Louisville Inc. is helping to advocate for the bill to pass.
“All these big major employers that have a bi-state, have a multi-state footprint need to be able to address their own workforce shortages,” said Iris Wilbur, Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for GLI. “And we can’t think of a better way that we’ve seen other states benefit than the nurse licensing compact.”
Nurses would still have to meet regulations and continue to be held accountable to the state nursing board. If this legislation passes, this compact can make a big impact and help strengthen the medical community.
“There really is no downside,” Minton said.
New Albany Rep. Ed Clere is authoring the House version of the bill. In a statement to WAVE 3 about the bill, he wrote: “Joining the 31 other states that are part of the Nurse Licensure Compact will benefit Southern Indiana and the Louisville region, as well as the entire state of Indiana. It will help address workforce issues and improve patient access and care.”
Minton will be testifying about the need for this interstate nursing licensure compact during a House committee hearing Wednesday. The companion bill in the Senate committee has already passed.