Bill seeks to address nursing shortage

The Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony Feb. 11 on a bill that would create scholarships for Nebraskans pursuing nursing degrees.

Sen. Myron Dorn
Sen. Myron Dorn

LB1091, introduced by Sen. Myron Dorn of Adams, would create the Nebraska Nursing Incentive Act. The bill would appropriate $5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds allocated to the state to create scholarships for qualified nursing students.

To qualify, a student would have to be a Nebraska resident who intends to enroll in an approved nursing program and practice as a licensed practical nurse or nurse aide upon graduation. Applicants also would be required to agree in writing to work for two years in Nebraska following graduation.

Dorn said there is severe nursing shortage in the state that is expected to worsen in the next few years.

“Nebraska must continue to do more to improve its nursing workforce,” he said.

Tim Plante of CHI Health testified in support of the bill. He said the state’s nursing shortage has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We would hire a thousand nurses tomorrow if we could find them,” Plante said.

Kari Wade, president of the Nebraska Nurses Association, also spoke in support. She said LB1091 not only would increase the number of nurses in Nebraska but would diversify the field by offering financial assistance to individuals who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford nursing school tuition.

No one testified in opposition to LB1091 and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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