A Solution to ND’s Nursing Shortage- By Nurses, For Nurses: SB 2198: A Bill to Develop a Statewide Nurse Staffing Clearinghouse

Patricia Moulton Burwell

DEVILS LAKE - North Dakota is experiencing a nurse staffing crisis. Chronic shortages and the pandemic have stressed North Dakota’s healthcare system to the edge.  Senate Bill 2198 proposes the development of a Statewide Nurse Staffing Clearinghouse by the North Dakota Center for Nursing. The clearinghouse will provide career services to ND graduates connecting them directly to ND employers, target unemployed, underemployed, and encumbered nurses. Centralized for out-of-state and international nurse recruitment will better transition nurses to ND jobs. Improved workplace culture will increase retention of nurses. The clearinghouse will include a statewide nurse staffing pool to provide for in-state recruitment of travel nurses and funding from the entire clearinghouse will stay in North Dakota to support the nursing workforce.

“Nurses are burning out due to chronic nursing shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic'” said the North Dakota Nurse Administrator, 2020

While the state may have had adequate facilities including beds- the key limitation throughout 2020 has been the lack of nursing staff. A few key data points from the 2020 Nursing Education, Supply and Demand Chartbook:

  • Almost 40% of graduates of North Dakota’s nursing programs plan to work outside North Dakota after graduation.
  • One-fifth of LPNs and 10% of RN/LPNs were unemployed prior to the pandemic.
  • One-fifth of LPNs and 16% of RN/APRNs are working in part-time jobs.
  • Contract nursing costs ND health care facilities millions of dollars annually.
  • Almost 50% of currently employed nurses want to leave North Dakota.

“Something needs to be done about retention of staff. Currently, I know of 7 ICU nurses that left their positions in Bismarck to take traveling positions to Fargo and 7 Fargo nurses that have left Fargo to go to Bismarck for different jobs. ND has a constant churning of nurses.  ND Nurse, 2020

“As a facility administrator, I would love to have access to a central staffing clearinghouse to hire staff for both travel and permanent positions.” Tessa Johnson, President, North Dakota Center for Nursing. “This bill provides the one-time funding to work as a state with nurses and health care facilities to develop a new flexible staffing model and clearinghouse to work towards ending ND’s nursing shortage”

More information is available on our policy brief at https://www.ndcenterfornursing.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/ND-Center-for-Nursing-Bill-Policy-Brief.pdf

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

Be sure to follow Devils Lake Journal on our twitter page, @devilslakenews, and like us on Facebook!