The Potluck

GOP lawmakers push to join national nurse licensure compact

By: - February 21, 2022 2:42 pm

Photo by Getty Images.

Republican lawmakers and nurses from Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota held a news conference Monday in support of a bill to make it easier for out-of-state nurses to work in Minnesota.

Supporters say becoming the 40th state to join the national Nurse Licensure Compact — which allows nurses to work across state lines with a multistate license — would ease Minnesota’s health care staffing shortages. 

The Minnesota Nurses Association disagrees, however, arguing the move would push out nurses who already live here.

To get a multistate license through the compact, nurses must meet licensure requirements in their home state and pass a national nursing test. Those standards would ensure that out-of-state nurses working in Minnesota are qualified, said state Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, who introduced a bill to allow Minnesota to join the compact.

Minnesota has licensure reciprocity with Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, but nurses in any other state need a Minnesota license to work here. That may discourage out-of-state nurses from pursuing jobs here, Nelson said, and it also causes headaches for local nurses.

Dominick Pahl, a nurse and nurse manager for Mayo Clinic, said he’s pursuing licensure in four other states that Mayo Clinic often works with. Pahl said it’s a burden to submit the same licensing application information over and over, when he’s already qualified here — plus, he has to pay for each application and meet the continuing education requirements to maintain licensure in each state.

The Minnesota Nurses Association, the union representing nurses, said in a statement Monday that working conditions are causing health care staffing issues, not a shortage of nurses. The number of registered nurses in Minnesota increased by 14,000 over the past three years, to a total of 119,000 in 2021, according to the association.

Joining the licensure compact would harm Minnesota nurses’ bargaining power and result in uneven care standards, the union says. The organization is advocating for a DFL-carried bill that would cap patient caseloads and give nurses more influence over staffing levels.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.