Kentucky declares emergency over nursing shortage

Kentucky's nursing shortage prompted Gov. Andy Beshear to sign an executive order Dec. 9 declaring that the situation amid a deadly global COVID-19 pandemic is an emergency.

Nursing shortages were a problem before the pandemic, but the pandemic exacerbated the problem, according to the four-page executive order. The executive order also noted that Kentucky is operating at 12 percent to 20 percent short of needed nursing staff, and the state is projected to need more than 16,000 additional nurses by 2024.

"This threatens not only the health of patients, but the entire healthcare delivery system," Mr. Beshear said in a news release. "We've got to do things a little bit differently to make sure we get the results we need at the time that we need them the most."

The executive order will require the state nursing board to approve requests for enrollment increases for Kentucky nursing schools that show sufficient resources to handle increased enrollment, the governor said.

With the executive order, nursing schools will also be required to provide monthly reports regarding vacant student seats to the nursing board, which will post those vacancies online.

Additionally, the governor said, nursing schools in the next month will send a list of faculty needed to reach full enrollment to his office, the nursing board and the Council on Postsecondary Education.

Other provisions of the order cited by Mr. Beshear include efforts allowing existing nursing schools with sufficient resources to open new campuses at a faster pace; allowing out-of-state nurses to come to Kentucky to practice; and creating an advisory committee to propose other solutions for addressing the state's nursing shortage.

Read the full executive order here

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