Howard Marklein

Howard Marklein

At the request of nurses throughout the 17th state Senate District, I recently authored Senate Bill 417 to make Wisconsin a member of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact. This legislation updates our current nurse licensure compact statute to maintain Wisconsin’s status as a compact state.

The eNLC provides an opportunity for nurses in Wisconsin to receive a multi-state license and allows nurses from other states to quickly fill vacancies in Wisconsin without receiving a duplicative single-state license. Nearly all Wisconsin nurses currently enjoy the benefits of an interstate license authorized by our current nurse licensure compact and will continue to have the benefit of an interstate license under this bill.

The eNLC was developed to add more value and state representation to the compact organization. It also takes advantage of new technology and national databases to insure that compact-licensed nurses meet consistent standards and background check benchmarks. As is the case today, the eNLC will not interfere with Wisconsin’s ability to hold any nurse practicing in Wisconsin accountable for meeting all Wisconsin nurse practice laws.

I have heard from dozens of nurses from the 17th District, as well as hospital administrators and doctors who have asked me to sponsor this legislation. Following are several messages I have received throughout the last month:

“At Southwest Health, being part of the nursing compact has meant that nurses in Iowa who want to work in Wisconsin can serve our patients immediately − rather than wait several weeks to process an additional nursing license. High quality health care, like Wisconsin’s, draws high performing workers, and this is true at Southwest Health where almost one in five nurses are from Iowa,” according to Dan Rohrbach, CEO, Southwest Health, Platteville. “Our hospital appreciates the leadership of Sen. Marklein, Rep. VanderMeer and Rep. Tranel in moving this legislation forward and ensuring that our nurses and patients can continue to enjoy the benefits of this important interstate agreement.”

“Gundersen Boscobel prides itself on fostering an environment of education and learning. Our tuition investment program is intended to grow nursing leaders and advance practice clinicians for our future and the future of rural health care, but those future nurse leaders and nurse practitioners must have a place to obtain a degree,” according to David Hartberg, CEO, Gundersen Boscobel Area Health and Clinics. “Online education makes it possible for nurses in our community to access highly experienced nurse educators from across the country while continuing to provide critical services for patients in rural Wisconsin. Without the nurse licensure compact, education institutions would face additional licensure barriers as they would have to seek separate certifications in every state where they offer education.”

“With a 70,000-square-foot expansion and renovation underway, we are focused on serving the current and meeting the future demands of an aging population in our community,” according to Nicole Clapp, president/CEO, Grant Regional Health Center. “It is important to maintain a nurse licensure compact agreement with Iowa and 25 other states to ensure we do not encounter unnecessary licensure barriers as we build our Wisconsin nursing workforce to meet the patient care needs our community faces into the future.”

The enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact is supported by Wisconsin’s Board of Nursing and numerous Wisconsin health care organizations including the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Wisconsin Organization of Nurse Executives and the Wisconsin Nurses Association. SB 417 was also developed in consultation with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS).

SB 417 was introduced on Sept. 21. I am working with my colleague, state Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, to move this bill swiftly through the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services so that we can bring it to the floor this fall.

For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov. Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need assistance with any state-related matters.

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Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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