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Governor Beshear signs executive order declaring Kentucky's nursing shortage an emergency

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Posted at 5:56 PM, Dec 09, 2021

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order Thursday declaring Kentucky’s nursing shortage amid a deadly global pandemic is an emergency.

Kentucky is currently operating at 12%-20% short of needed nursing staff, and the state is projected to need more than 16,000 additional nurses by 2024.

“This threatens not only the health of patients, but the entire health care delivery system,” said Gov. Beshear. “We’ve got to do things a little bit differently to make sure we get the results we need at the time that we need them the most.”

Through this order, Kentucky nursing schools will be able to enroll more students. The order will require the Kentucky Board of Nursing to approve requests for enrollment increases for schools that show sufficient resources to handle more students.

The order also requires schools to report vacant student seats to the Board of Nursing every month. The Board will post those vacancies on its website. This will allow schools without vacancies to refer applicants to schools with programs that have open seats.

Under this order, nursing schools in the next month will send a list of faculty needed to reach full enrollment to the Board of Nursing, the Governor’s Office, and the Council on Postsecondary Education.

Also under this order: Existing schools that want to open new campuses can do so much more quickly, as long as they have sufficient resources. Under this order, a new campus will be considered an enrollment increase to an existing program, which offers significant savings of time and money. Schools that want to open new campuses alone or as a joint venture can take advantage of this important provision.

The order also allows nurses licensed in other states to come to Kentucky to practice in this emergency. Further, it creates the Team Kentucky Nursing Advisory Committee, which will be composed of individuals with experience in education, health care, and nursing, to propose additional solutions for addressing Kentucky’s nursing shortage.

“I want to thank the Governor for listening to the voices of nurses,” said Kelly Jenkins, executive director of the Kentucky Board of Nursing. “We’ve been working diligently to place these emergency orders into effect since the pandemic started and to try to recruit more nurses from other states. We thank the Governor for working with us.”