Nurses in Montgomery, Alabama rallied in support of a bill that increase the number of teaching scholarships available. Over 3500 nursing students were turned away because there was not room for them in class in the past year.
The nurses at the rally said that one of the biggest problems Alabamians face is lack of access to care, and that a shortage of educators, nurses and doctors is the cause, according to an article on WNCFTV.com, a Montgomery, Alabama news site.
Legislation to provide more scholarships for prospective nurse educators would help speed along
Studies have shown that nurses tend to take jobs close to where they graduated from nursing school, so even if there are more nurses elsewhere in the United States, it’s important for there to be enough educators in Alabama to address shortages there.
Dr. Joyce Varner, President, Alabama Nurses Association, says, “We have a crisis here so we need to get these people in nursing school, we need to have good qualified faculty and we need to get them out where we can help with this because when 2014 comes and our Medicaid rolls go from 900,000 and increase by another 500,000 what are we going to do.”
Representative April Weaver who is a nurse and sponsor of HB 83, a bill to increase the number of scholarships, says she thinks it will pass.
“We really have a huge issue with the nursing shortage that is coming upon us in Alabama and it’s so important that we address this now before we actually have a healthcare crisis,” said Weaver.
But nurses say there’s more to solving the problem than just increasing their numbers. They say many counties in Alabama have almost no primary care providers. They say nurse practitioners are trained to step in and fill that role, but they need lawmakers help to remove the restrictions.
Ami Goodnough, a nurse, says, “Currently in this state we need to be under a doctor to prescribe, the advance practice nurse cannot work independently and in other states the advanced practice nurse can have a clinic and write prescriptions independently, especially in palative care a new and upcoming need as the baby boomers continue to age and how can you write prescriptions for pain management and narcotics for the elderly when you don’t have prescriptive authority.”
Governor Robert Bentley attended the rally and told the crowd he wants to create an Alabama Health Alliance that would bring all the medical associations, including nurses, together and get them working toward common goals. Bentley admits there are barriers that need to be broken.
“The nurses and nurse practitioners and the physicians assistants which are probably not represented here today they play a vital role in our healthcare system and we all work together and that’s what we need to do we shouldn’t have these turf battles and turf wars we all need to come together in a common goal to help our patients,” said Bentley.
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia allow nurses to have independent practices.
Forty eight states allow Nurse practitioners to write prescriptions for controlled substances. The only ones who don’t are Florida and Alabama.
Alabama has over 81 thousand nurses and around 2000 certified nurse practitioners.
They say in five years the number of people over the age of 85 is expected to double.