A new bill the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate takes up this fall could make it easier for nurses to treat patients in more than one state.
Wisconsin already participates in an agreement that allows nurses in member states to practice in other member states. The bill, which calls for an enhanced compact, extends and updates that program.
"As of this summer, 26 states have adopted the compact," Beth Smith Houskamp, Chief Nursing Officer at Gundersen Health System, said. "Multiple states are voting on it right now, including Wisconsin."
Wisconsin has been part of an original compact, but the enhanced version presented in the bill allows more more states to participate and more portability.
"It's very attractive for nurses because if we had a shortage, nurses can far easier come in and fill positions that are available," Smith Houskamp said. "It's also significantly cheaper."
The enhanced compact would eliminate the delay between applying for a license and being granted one by the state. Often times it can be a matter or weeks or months and that lost time can adversely affect patients. Nurses would be able to work in all member states with just their Wisconsin license.
"You work hard, you went through school, you obtained your license and took all the testing," Katie Glanville, a registered nurse at Gundersen Health System, said. "You should be able to go practice as a nurse anywhere and not have to worry about obtaining a different license in every state."
The bill is expected to be voted on before the end of the year. The current compact Wisconsin is a member of expires in January of 2018.