By TOM JOYCE
THE CENTER SQUARE STAFF REPORTER
(The Center Square) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation extending the professional licenses of more than 2,000 health care workers in the state on Friday.
The Republican signed Senate Bill 1309, sponsored by state Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix. The bill extends those licenses until Jan. 1, 2023, to give licensing boards time to process full licenses or reissue licenses.
“Throughout the pandemic, doctors, nurses and other health professionals have been at the frontlines. When we needed them, they were there,” Gov. Ducey said in a news release. “Whether they just graduated with their health care degrees, returned to the workforce or came from another state, these caretakers and everyday heroes stepped up. Today’s common sense legislation ensures more nurses and health care workers remain employed and means more of our hospitals and other health care facilities keep their staff.”
About 1,200 of those more than 2,000 health care workers with a temporary license are nurses. This comes when about one-third of Arizona hospitals are experiencing nursing shortages.
“This is a simple, but necessary move. If these licenses were to expire, our critical health professionals would need to scramble to get relicensed,” she said in the news release. “This proactive bill ensures a timely renewal process to keep more people employed. Thank you to Governor Ducey for his quick response and support of the health care industry.”
It’s a move that Dawna Cato, CEO of the Arizona Nurses Association, approves of as well.
“With an existing shortage of nurses, now is not the time to let temporary health professional licenses expire,” she said in the press release. “The Arizona Nurses Association fully supports the signing of this bill into law, as it helps the board process license renewals and will keep more of our frontline nurses where we need them — taking care of us. We are grateful to Gov. Ducey for his swift action on this issue.”