As cases of COVID-19 overwhelm hospitals again, Governor Andy Beshear is putting a focus on Kentucky’s nursing shortage, a crisis he declared a state of emergency for last month.
On Wednesday the Team Kentucky Nursing Advisory Committee held its first meeting. The committee said pay is one challenge that leads to others. Especially for nurses who live near bordering states where they can easily cross state lines to make more money. The professionals said if they could just keep those nurses in Kentucky, that would be a huge help, but they also need nursing students to fill positions.
Audria Denker, with the Kentucky Board of Nursing, said students are choosing to go into other careers, like more tech jobs, where they can work from home.
A day before his budget address to lawmakers, Governor Beshear released his healthcare budget plan, which includes $6 million a year for scholarships, doubling awards from $1,500 to $3,000 a semester.
It also comes down to work load, especially during unprecedented COVID surges.
It is a shortage that these leaders say will only get worse, if pay, mental health, and retainment aren’t addressed.
Under the governor’s plan is a student loan forgiveness program that would start in May. It provides $5 million a year, for five years, for loan forgiveness up to $3,000 a year for a nurse or nurse faculty member who is employed in Kentucky.
The committee has a deadline of March 10 to send recommendations to Governor Beshear.