CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina hospitals could be getting the help they need from recent nurse graduates faster than expected.
Sen. Tom Davis, R- Beaufort, introduced a bill that is making its way through the Statehouse. It would temporarily allow graduates of an accredited nurse school to practice under the supervision of a licensed registered nurse while waiting to take their licensure exam.
Aiken Regional Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Bridget Denzik says the COVID-19 pandemic has led to exam delays and an increased need for hospital staff.
South Carolina already has a nursing shortage, so she says the delays made things worse.
“When COVID first started it was a huge challenge for our graduate nurses, because often times they had to wait as long as three months to wait for exams. In the meantime that delayed them from being able to start working in hospitals,” Denzik said.
In July of 2020, state agencies issued a temporary order allowing grads to start helping in hospitals before their exam.
The bill, which has now passed the senate, would make that permanent.
Nurse graduates would have 90 days to take the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX. While waiting they would be allowed to start their job training in the hospital.
“We have to move forward with this legislation to make sure our nursing students are able to start work, and to protect the health of our communities,” Denzik said. “It’s important to note that by the year 2030 we’re projected to be short 10,400 nurses in South Carolina alone. We think it’s important the community understands how significant the need is, and that’s why it’s so important to get this bill pushed through.”
The bill has been referred to a House committee. To follow the legislation, click here.