By Terri Jo Neff |
State lawmakers continue to propose ways to rectify Arizona’s severe healthcare workforce shortage, including a bipartisan vote on House Bill 2691 to increase collaboration among the state’s education and healthcare communities.
Under HB2691, five new healthcare related programs would be established to promote various training efforts in an effort to address an ongoing shortage for nurses and other medical professionals. The programs are:
- The Arizona Nurse Education Investment Program which would increase the capacity of nursing education programs in Arizona to increase the number of all levels of nurses graduating from the state’s nursing education programs. This is intended to address Arizona’s yearslong nursing shortage.
- An Arizona Department of Health Services grant program to expand the capacity of preceptor training for nurse students and new nurse graduates. This would ensure an increase in instructors available to handle expanded nursing programs.
- The Nurse Transition to Practice Program to better support and develop new nurses, provide evidence-based professional development, and more rapidly accelerate the novice nurse to a competent nurse.
- A grant program to encourage and support more preceptorships in Arizona for the training and development of graduate students wishing to become physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, dentists, and physician assistants.
- A pilot program to develop and expand capacity of behavioral health programs at community colleges. This would include coverage of tuition, fees, and related educational expenses for eligible students.
HB2691 also seeks to make it less difficult for military members who wish to receive credit in a healthcare education program for experience and skills developed during their service.
The bill passed its Third Reading in the House on Thursday with a 56 to 3 vote and has been transmitted to the Arizona Senate for consideration.