Vital Views

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak sits down with UNLV Nursing to discuss trending topics in Nevada nursing, including why Nevada would benefit from joining the Nursing Licensure Compact and the best ways to address nursing shortages.

Creators & Guests

Joseph Gaccione
Host, Writer, Producer

What is Vital Views?

Vital Views is a weekly podcast created by UNLV School of Nursing to discuss health care from a Rebel Nursing perspective. We share stories and expert information on both nursing-specific and broader healthcare topics to bring attention to the health trends and issues that affect us. New episodes every Tuesday.

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Joe Gaccione 0:00
Hello and welcome to vital views podcast for the UNLV School of Nursing. I'm Joseph Gaccione. communications director for the School of Nursing. Nevada is not unique when it comes to addressing problems rooted in the world of nursing. Like other states, we feel the same impact from issues like labor gaps on the frontlines, and effective education solutions to benefit students, faculty and staff. obstacles like these require top level decision making and leadership. Fortunately, we have a very special guest with us today who fits that description. Joining us to talk about new solutions for nursing in Nevada is Governor Steve Sisolak himself, who just happened to be in the neighborhood looking for something to do. No, he's actually sharing his valuable time with us while visiting UNLV for our final session of nurse camp. Gov Sisolak, thanks for stopping in.

Governor Sisolak 0:41
It's a real pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Joe Gaccione 0:43
No problem. I wanted to start with the nursing licensure compact. For those out there who don't know this is a nationwide agreement among most states that allow registered nurses in one state to practice and another without having to go after additional licenses, as long as those states are part of the compact. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing has 39 states listed as part of the compact or waiting on legislation or implementation. But Nevada is not one of those states. Now, last year was introduced to the Nevada legislature as Assembly Bill 142. But it didn't go further. Governor, can you discuss why Nevada has not joined the compact yet?

Governor Sisolak 1:21
Well, you know, I don't know the reason we haven't. But we certainly should. I mean, last session was a difficult session with COVID couldn't get people in the building didn't ever go committee meeting hearing. So it was difficult to move in advance the bill. But clearly the compact would benefit the benefit Nevada would benefit our nurses and benefit the nurses coming in to Nevada, so I'm very supportive of it. And hopefully they'll bring it back this legislative session.

Joe G 1:45
Now during the COVID emergency declaration, there were exceptions where additional health workers like nurses were allowed to come into Nevada to help augment our efforts. Now that declaration is over ended back in May licensure and certification processes go back to normal? Do you think because of this emergency experience, to put it lightly as a silver lining, it may provide more reason for Nevada to join?

Governor Sisolak 2:06
Well, I think it'll clearly show the legislature that it worked. You know, there's no doubt about that, you know, the executive orders have expired, and that we did have that where we could get nurses and doctors in, you know, without the licensure in the state of Nevada that was reciprocal, which I think was very helpful. We're looking to do that with more of our boards, because other states go through the licensing process just like we do, and it's accepted in other states. So it's just the wave of the future. And I think that the individuals that go through the process are well served by that and the community is certainly well served by that.

Governor Sisolak 2:35
And a compact isn't just you sign up and automatically nurses can go from state to state there are background checks, you still have to apply for licensure like you would in any state. So there is a process behind the scenes to make sure that the right nurses, the qualified nurses are getting what they need.

Governor Sisolak 2:49
Exactly. It's not just willy nilly done, you know, this is something that you know, there is a handle on to make sure that it's done professionally, it's done efficiently, and is then carefully so that we're sure we get the right people. But the opportunity exists to expand our nursing Corps. And that's something that I'm very supportive of, and I think that we need to all look at and move forward.

Joe G 3:08
We look forward to hearing about that the next Nevada legislature session is set for February 2023. We're talking about shortages and not just pandemic related but in general, what are ways that you think state leadership can help improve response times to these nursing shortage projections, so we can be potentially more proactive than reactive?

Governor Sisolak 3:27
Well, I think one of the big things we need to do is partner with our universities, the two universities, both in Nevada, Reno and UNLV, to make sure that they have capacity, they have the resource opened up more lines for nursing students to apply that those that want to get in can get in they can get the adequate education and get the classes that they need. So they can get out into the real workforce. I can tell you in dealing with the hospitals in the medical community, there's a desperate need, there's an absolute desperate need to get more qualified, quality nurses in the field. So it's our job to assist them and make that happen.

Joe G 3:59
And one of the biggest ways that we can produce more qualified nurses is to have more qualified nurse educators. But it's challenging to balance class sizes and student to teacher ratios. And this isn't just a nursing thing we've seen in public schools as well. With fewer nurse educators, schools, like UNLV might be forced to turn away qualified applicants. What are your thoughts on how we can draw more educators to the field?

Governor Sisolak 4:21
Well, we need to get more of them. Oftentimes those educators come out of the nursing field. They put in some time in the nursing field, and they decide they wanted move on and pass on their skills to the younger people, the people that are coming up. That was a benefit. I saw the nursing camp this morning, we had some nurse practitioners that were there that work their shifts, and they did their job and they came here volunteer as volunteers to work with these kids work with the students and explain exactly what it's about. So we can't turn away qualified people that want to get into the field. We just don't have that luxury right now. And it's not just an interesting field. We've got the same thing in the education field in terms of educating more teachers, bringing more teachers online and that's really the job of the two universities and our community. The colleges that make sure that kids that want to get into this young people want to get in this have the access to the classes and programs that they need.

Joe G 5:08
Now, one thing you've supported publicly is through the nurse apprenticeship program. Back in January, you advocated for more students to sign up and grab those opportunities to learn what it's like in the real world be employed. Also while still in school. And on paper, it's a win for students looking for more experience, and it's a win for hospitals looking for additional help. I know for UNLV nursing, we had about 20 apprentices for spring, and we're still serving numbers for summer. Are there other mechanisms or incentives you're considering to encourage more licensed nurses to stay practicing, or potential nurses to enter the field

Governor Sisolak 5:41
you know, we're doing everything we can to encourage the nurses that are practicing to stay in the field. I mean, their employers are doing that in terms of incentives in terms of pay bonuses, and retention bonuses, and so forth, and so on. With getting the young people in, I think what we need to do is help them with a tuition assistance, if that's the case, with a stipend so that they can get in, it's a difficult situation with these kids are coming in. And unfortunately, can leave with an enormous student debt that makes it really difficult for the nurses to practice. So whatever we can do to assist them so that they don't have to incur this massive amount of debt and adequately fund them into the program so that they can achieve the success on the back end.

Joe G 6:21
Now, one topic we teach our students here is health equity and equality. There was obviously a renewed interest and heightened focus on health disparities during the pandemic, that still remains a key issue. Like most health care providers, our nurses see it regularly treating patients that may come from socio economic disadvantaged backgrounds. Do you foresee any upcoming funding or support for nurse education and research from the state to address health disparities?

Governor Sisolak 6:44
Well, I'm sure that some legislators gonna bring that up. I mean, I, I don't get to introduce all the bills, you know, I get to sign them or veto them. But we encourage the legislature Look at this. And I know that the legislature is taking an active interest in terms of the nursing shortage and how to overcome some of the shortages that we're facing. And they'll be looking at all those opportunities and all those options in the next session.

Joe G 7:04
My final question before this interview, and we talked about this at the beginning, you toured the UNLV nurse camp, it's one of the ways that we foster healthcare education for future nursing generations here in the valley. What were your impressions?

Governor 7:15
I was really impressed. I was really impressed. They had 2021. Young ladies in the camp, it was they've had probably on between 60 and 70. Students for the three weeks that they've had at the three sessions of the camp. It's pretty enlightening that it was 90% female who are they're the ones that are going to lead us out of this, you know, nursing shortage, clearly, that are taking the interest of students seem to be very much engaged with the faculty with the instructors, whether it's learning how to take blood pressure, or breathing techniques, or removing sutures, or staples, or all those sorts of things. So they're there to see if it really is something that they want to do full time for a living. And it's, it's an exposure that otherwise they would never get. And then they'd have to put the time in with their education, the money for credits, and so forth, and so on. So if you have any interest once a while or think you might have an interest, it's definitely something that students I encourage them to look into in that from the high school age of juniors and seniors on up to see if it fits them. But it was a very collegial effort over there at the camp. I mean, the kids were all getting along very, very well. The teachers are this is, this isn't a TV show, this is the real stuff that they're doing. It's a great opportunity to do that. But for a camp like this, they would never be exposed to this kind of an opportunity.

Joe G 8:27
Exactly. The one of the best parts about camp is that it shows that nursing is not just what you see on TV or in the movies, there's so much that goes behind the scenes. And I do want to point out to yes, this session for nurse camp is entirely female, but we've had male students before and the past few sessions so for any families out there that have you know, boys that want to become nurses, this is not to discourage them in any way. This is just by chance. These were all female.

Governor 8:51
Yeah, no, absolutely not encouraged the men to take a look at this young men that have an opportunity. It's a great field to get into. And we have a lot of male nurses in practice right now. But this is like I say, an it's an exposure in his real world techniques. This isn't makeup. I mean, a fake deal. This is our TV show. This is they actually are on the scene cutting sutures on an arm, which is very, you know, some people can do it and some people can't. And this is the time that to learn if this is something that you have an interest in, you might not have an interest in and any young man or woman that's out there in junior or junior senior in high school this year, are going to be graduating, consider this consider coming to the camp next year so that you can get this exposure and you know, learn a little bit more about nursing and what it has to offer in the field and, and taking care of patients.

Joe G 9:42
Well, Governor Sisolak Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us. We look forward to seeing where the future of nursing takes us here in the Silver State.

Governor 9:49
It's a pleasure. Thanks for having me, and it's always fun to be on campus.

Joe G 9:52
Have a great day everyone. Thanks for listening

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