The past year has underscored the importance of our state’s health care system. However, when the current public health crisis ends, we will still face an impending nurse shortage, and newly trained nurses will not be able to solve it alone.

As a nurse and educator, I have helped train the next generation of nurses to both provide quality care and advocate on behalf of their patients. They have gone on to work for emergency units, surgical teams, and as travel nurses. For those that wish to travel or relocate across state lines, Illinois’ current licensing structure acts as a deterrent for many of my students.

Illinois can fix this by joining the Nursing Licensure Compact, which allows nurses to hold a single license and practice in any of the 35 compact states. Proven safe for the past 20 years, this Compact relies on national education and testing requirements that nurses in every state are required to meet. This ability for nurses to be mobile under the Compact will become increasingly important in providing quality care to patients as telehealth options continue to expand.

Hospitals, assisted care facilities, doctors’ offices, and more are going to need more qualified nurses over the next several years to care for patients across Illinois. Lawmakers must pass legislation that allows Illinois to join the Licensure Compact, so they can find and attract the nurses they need.

Kellee Hayes,

Director of nursing, Kankakee Community College