Protect Patient Safety & Access

Legislation introduced to positively address workforce shortage

Lawmakers have introduced many of the bills that constitute the Protect Patient Safety & Access legislative package.

SB 5537: Establishing the Washington state hospital patient care unit staffing innovation collaborative

The Washington State Hospital Patient Care Unit Staffing Innovation Collaborative would be an independently staffed, multi-disciplinary collaborative of experts working to enhance the understanding of innovative hospital care delivery models — such as those that integrate onsite team-based care delivery, use of patient monitoring equipment and technology, and virtual or remote care delivery — across Washington State. This will help ease the daily stress felt by bedside nurses.

SB 5499: Concerning the multistate Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)

The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) consists of 37 states and two jurisdictions, in which nurses can meet uniform license requirements to practice in any participating state or jurisdiction. Joining the NLC would make it easier for nurses to begin practicing in Washington State. The NLC is especially helpful for military families and communities that border adjacent states, with Idaho and many other states with military bases having already adopted the NLC. Washington State took emergency measures to allow out-of-state volunteer health care workers who were in good standing in their home states to practice locally during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, proving that this type of program can be successfully implemented with proper oversight.

SB 5498: Creating the hospital-based nurse student loan repayment assistance program under the Washington health corps

The Washington State Hospital-Based Nurse Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program would benefit nurses who are not already receiving another form of student loan repayment assistance. Through a partnership between participating hospitals and the state, the program would pay half of 130% of the median hospital-based nurses’ student loan payment for the duration of their service commitment, greatly easing the burden of student loans. It requires participating hospitals – if they are not critical access, Medicare dependent or sole community hospitals – to fund 50% of their employees’ assistance. This hospital-state partnership will reach more nurses than a program solely operated by the state, helping make Washington hospitals a destination state for already trained nurses.

SB 5547: Concerning nursing pool transparency

Hospitals and long-term care facilities rely on staffing agencies for contract health care workers – known as “travelers” – when they have patient surges and ongoing staff vacancies. Since the start of the pandemic, these facilities have had to increase their use travelers to meet patient care needs. This, along with significant rising costs and fees, has created a challenging and unsustainable financial situation for hospitals and long-term care facilities. SB 5547 increases transparency among staffing agencies to help facilities better understand costs and make informed decisions when contracting.

SB 5503: Establishing requirements for uniform clinical placement hours for nursing education programs

Clinical experience is a core component of nursing education and there are a minimum number of hours that nursing students must fulfill based on degree type. SB 5503 standardizes clinical hours requirements across schools for license practical nursing and registered nursing programs across Washington State to help ensure students have equal access to placement opportunities.