In an effort to help with a nursing shortage throughout the state, especially in rural areas, State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) is co-sponsoring legislation (Senate Bill 888) that would allow a Board of Trustees of a community college to offer a bachelor's degree in nursing.
“When I visit healthcare providers in my district, they tell me they are in desperate need of good nurses, but they oftentimes struggle to fill the gap,” Rezin said. “This would help fill those gaps by allowing individuals to pursue a career in nursing but who either can’t afford a four year university, are working another job, or have other circumstances that prevents them from attending a four year university. Providing students this avenue to achieve their dream is important – not only for them but for patients across the state and the future of healthcare.”
The American Nurses Association (ANA) writes that the nurse shortage must be addressed:
"Without decisive action, nurses will practice under increased stress. As the health care system is strained by an aging population and broadened access to public health care, it will be nurses that feel the weight of patient responsibility on their shoulders.”
The ANA also reports that “with more than 500,000 seasoned RNs (Registered Nurses) anticipated to retire by 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new RNs for expansion and replacement of retirees, and to avoid a nursing shortage.”
“If someone has the skillset, knowledge, and passion to help others as a nurse but can’t attend a four year university for a variety of reasons, I think we owe it to them to provide them another way,” Rezin said. “Going the community college route would include the same rigorous educational standards as a university. We need more good nurses. The statistics proving that is alarming. It’s a critical profession in every community as they save lives every day.”
Rezin’s 38th Senate District includes Illinois Valley Community College. Joliet Junior College and Waubonsee Community College sit just outside her district.
Right now, the Illinois Higher Education Working Group is also discussing ways on how to best address the nursing shortage. Rezin says she will wait to see if the working group can come up with an adequate solution, but if they can’t, Rezin says this legislation should then be debated and voted on.