Proposed bill aims to help nursing shortage

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Jason Gilbert is the chief nurse officer for IU Health. He says the nursing shortage has been an ongoing issue for more than a year now.

“I think what we’ve seen our teams go through over the last couple of years has exacerbated the shortage. we’ve all stepped up in meeting the demands of increased patient acuity and increased patient volume at all of our hospitals in the state,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert says the state is staring down the barrel of a bad situation.

“I can tell you we have we have a workforce of 9,500 nurses at IU Health. Since the pandemic started we have seen our openings triple, so right now we have postings for about 1,700 nurses throughout the state,” said Gilbert.

House Bill 1003 hopes to help the issue. Allowing more students to be accepted into nursing programs and changing some of the requirements on faculty.

“Every school is turning away 100s of qualified nursing students because of faculty shortages. That’s one thing that I think is great about this bill that was proposed by Representative Manning is it addresses some of the barriers to school expansion or for recruiting and retaining qualified faculty,” said Gilbert

There has been some concern with one of the other points in the bill that would allow students to get clinical credit in the classroom instead of a hospital setting.

“Of course there is no substitute for that one-on-one patient care but it does give another venue where you can walk someone through in a safe environment perhaps a situation they wouldn’t ordinarily see in a clinical setting,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert says he doesn’t believe the bill implies unqualified students would get into the nursing field.

“Believe me the last thing that any of us want is to jeopardize the patient safety of any of the Hoosiers that we serve by having the inadequate preparation for practice, but I think there are long standing artificial barriers in place that in todays environment we have to change in order to deliver on increasing the pipeline of nurses into the profession,” said Gilbert.

House Bill 1003 is certainly not an overnight fix for the nursing shortage, but Gilbert says it’s a step in the right direction

“There’s still the faculty recruitment that has to happen in building the programs, increasing the equipment and student support, because you can’t just put the students in and magically next month they come out nurses there still has to be that education preparation,” said Gilbert.