Gov.Hogan Announces New Guidance to Fight Nursing Shortage

SALISBURY, Md. –  Governor Hogan announced new steps are being taken to help hospitals have enough nurses to handle a potential surge in Covid cases.

The new plan would allow for nurses that are licensed in all 50 states to be eligible to work in Maryland, as well as requesting nursing programs accelerate the graduation of their nursing students, to have them working in hospitals as fast as possible.

“While our hospitalizations remain well below all of our pandemic surge capacity triggers, we are taking proactive steps to maximize the ability of our hospitals to increase their nursing workforce,” Governor Hogan said.

Salisbury University’s nursing program will not be accelerating their nursing programs graduation rate according to School of Nursing Director Debra Webster. “Salisbury University school of nursing does not have any plans to graduate any students early this year as we feel they need to be prepared fully before entering the workforce,” she said. Webster told 47ABC there is a big difference between being a nursing student, and a practicing nurse in a hospital and the best way to bridge that gap is with more education and mentorship, and experience in classroom labs.

“When you are a student you are under constant supervision of nursing faculty and nursing faculty is there to provide support and decision making, once you are a nurse your out there on your own and you have to utilize those skills you were taught in schools,” she said. This December 35 students will graduate, with another 65 to follow in May according to Webster. The Chief Nursing Officer at Atlantic General Matthew Morris told 47ABC his hospital would consider taking students who did graduate early, as well as physicians assistants, that according to new guidance can practice without a license under strict supervision.

If a covid surge created a deeper nursing shortage, with more demand, Morris said Atlantic General would take the help. “Certainly if they are prepared and available and there was a need certainly would consider them with the proper supervision,” he said. Atlantic General has already been calling in out-of-state nurses as part of a separate medical order, that limited the hospital to nurses from certain states and networks, at a high price for the hospital.

“We are certainly paying triple the costs and that will hit our bottom line and affect what type of care we can provide outside of covid care,” he said, adding “our biggest concern right now is staffing those medical-surgical beds and what that means to the general public is if you’re having elective surgery we may or may not have a bed for you,” he said.

He says that his hospital has not paused those elective surgeries yet, but that decision is made on a daily basis and could swiftly change if another covid spike were to hit the area. He says the Governor’s announcement will make it easier for his hospital, by allowing them to operate in a similar manner as they did under the state of emergency, but he says he wants to see more structural change and support to help ensure more nurses are able to stay in the field in Maryland.

“These changes the Governor has made will help in the short term but long term if we are not looking at salaries or how we can have additional seats in these programs we will continue to have to contend with nursing staffing issues into the future,” Morris said.

Categories: Health, Local News, Maryland