Smaller Government and Freer People. That’s the big goal of all the political and policy efforts I lead with my team. It’s the primary lens through which we consider all policy initiatives that we promote or oppose.
Occasionally there is a policy response to a societal question that makes it perfectly clear that we are far better off when we are guided by the principles of smaller government and freer people.
A bill that I recently sponsored in the Colorado House and have successfully handed off to the Senate (with only 8 votes in opposition in the House) is a perfect example.
And this bill is especially potent because it’s also a perfect example of how conservative principles applied to a societal challenge will attract Unaffiliated voters and even some Democratic voters.
The bill is HB18-1086 and it deals with providing additional, high quality pathways for nursing students to pursue their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees.
We have a shortage of nurses in Colorado today and the problem is growing. The shortage of BSN qualified nurses is especially acute. We are feeling the pinch in El Paso county as are counties all across the state.
According to the Tatiana Bailey, Director of the UCCS Economic Forum, Colorado Springs has a deficit of approximately 1300 trained nurses in our workforce. Bailey says:
Our hospitals (UC Health and Penrose St. Francis) are feeling that deficit acutely. They are recruiting nationwide to bring nurses to our region to meet the workforce demands. Our hospitals are also facing significant costs associated with hiring “travelers” nurses who come to our region and work temporarily at much higher costs than regular fulltime employees. Our hospitals are pressuring both UCCS and PPCC to dramatically and quickly increase the number of graduates. Both hospitals have a goal of only hiring BSN trained nurses. Currently, both hospitals give RN graduates 5 years to complete a BSN after they are hired.
Not a pretty situation, but, there is reason to hope. Unlike many of the problems we face in Colorado today there is an easy policy solution to this problem. And from my perspective HB18-1086 is the biggest part of the solution.
We have a pre-existing network of community colleges. They are doing themselves proud graduating individuals onto the first rung of the professional nurse continuum with Associates Degrees in Nursing. What this Bill does is gives those community colleges, sprinkled all about our glorious state, the ability to help nurses achieve the next step in their professional development, the achievement of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (also known as a BSN). The community colleges will be held to the same standards of academic rigor that current BSN providers meet.
The nurses who take the first step into nursing through the community colleges currently stack up academically very well when they choose to go on to a BSN degree. But there are not enough slots available, not enough programs provided. Our ability to encourage developing nurses to climb the mountain of professional developmental doesn’t have enough pathways. And we all know there’s more than one way to the top of a mountain. Without HB-1086 too many BSN candidates are forced to pay a premium, or worse, they leave our beautiful state and we lose their skill and our nursing shortage gets worse.
Simply put, the expanded nurse education opportunities legislation provides more pathways up the mountain of professional development. It allows community colleges to provide, all across the majestic skyline of Colorado new pathways to earn a BSN degree. This is especially useful because those schools already provide a solution to, in my mind, the most challenging part of nurse education, the laboratory and practicum elements that are a core part of the early phases of nursing education.
So, HB18-1086, is a great example of how we can apply the principle of smaller government and freer people to the actions of the legislature and achieve a great benefit for the people of Colorado.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me, I always enjoy hearing from my constituents.