Indiana lawmakers have endorsed a loosening of regulations on nursing education programs in hopes of increasing the number of new nurses and helping fill thousands of open jobs.
The state Senate voted 48-0 on Thursday in favor of allowing nursing schools to increase enrollment and hire more part-time instructors if they have a high percentage of graduates passing the national nursing licensing exam. The House approved a similar version of the bill last month.
Hospital officials and health care organizations supporting the proposal have told legislators that some 4,000 nursing jobs are unfilled across the state in a shortage exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic as some nurses have quit or taken part-time jobs.
Bill sponsor Sen. Mark Messmer of Jasper said the state should encourage nursing programs that have the capacity to grow.
The proposal would allow nursing programs with licensing exam passage rate of at least 80% to double their enrollment rather than current limit of 25% a year.
Ivy Tech Community College now graduates about 1,300 nurses a year and school officials have said they could add 600 more students a year under the proposed rules.
University of Indianapolis nursing school Dean Norma Hall told lawmakers that she worried students could receive an inferior education if schools were to adopt the bill’s provisions allowing them to provide up to half of nurse clinical training through simulations, rather than on real patients.