By Tech. Sgt. Daniel Martinez
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Louisiana lawmakers approved two bills allowing out-of-state nursing and physical therapy medical practice licenses to be transferrable into Louisiana. These law revisions will allow licensed military dependents to more easily assimilate into the local workforce.
The Nurse Licensure Compact and Physical Therapy Licensure Compact, championed by Senator Barrow Peacock, passed the Louisiana Senate this month. Both bills promote uniform interstate licensure requirements with the NLC bill adding Louisiana to 29 other compact nursing states, with four additional states pending participation after passing similar legislation.
“More spouses are going to start working because they won’t have the costs associated with transferring their license to a new state which can be very expensive,” said Shellie Neuman, registered nurse and Air Force spouse. “Plus they can start working right away, there’s no waiting period.”
Neuman testified before the Louisiana State Senate to advocate for these licensure compacts after she experienced firsthand the cumbersome bureaucratic process to continue pursuing her passion.
“I was a Texas registered nurse and they are part of the compact. I practiced on that license in five other states,” Neuman said. “When I moved here, I had to get a Louisiana license and could not practice. From start to finish, it took me six months to get my license.”
For someone who is struggling with student loans and debt, every day where they can’t work can add to their financial burdens, Neuman added. She said these bills will help prevent military spouses, or anyone wanting to transfer their nursing and physical therapy licenses, from struggling financially.
In addition to enhancing opportunities for registered nurses and physical therapists, both bills will also help increase public access to needed medical services. Advocates for the bills included local chamber of commerce members.
“By allowing professionals with the right experience and licensure to practice within our state and our area, we can attract the best and brightest professionals as well as fill shortages we have within the healthcare community,” said Lisa Johnson, Bossier City Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer.
Bossier City and Shreveport are expected to benefit with the addition of more qualified nurses and physical therapists, while showing support for incoming military families.
“The effort put into these bills by local elected officials, organizations such as the local chambers of commerce and our other military support organizations was an example of the lengths our community will go to support our men and women in uniform,” said Timothy J. Magner Ed.D., Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce president. “We appreciate that spouses and all those who support our Airmen, are essential to not only our war fighting posture, but to the quality of life we want for our neighbors who serve us at Barksdale.”
Magner added, “We hope that efforts like these help make Barksdale a destination of choice when Airmen and their families are selecting assignments.”
Neuman said she is grateful for the military spouses who shared their stories and inspired her to speak on their behalf. In addition to the state leaders who were willing to hear those stories as well as her own, she hopes this will encourage others to stand up for what they believe.
“If there’s a process you think can be better, speak up and go to your local representatives because they want to help you,” Neuman said. “Don’t be afraid to tell your story and reach out to those people in power – be an advocate.”
Both bills can be viewed on the Louisiana State Legislature website at: https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?i=233620&sbi=y and https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?i=233621&sbi=y.