Washington Nurse news briefs — Spring/​Summer 2024

Transition to digital communications format, nurse legislators decline in numbers, new health equity CNE requirement, apply for a Washington multistate license, become a preceptor for student nurses.

This story was published in the Spring-Summer 2024 issue of The Washington Nurse.

Table of contents

Surprise gift for scholarships

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Student applications for the Washington State Nurses Foundation scholarship program in 2024 reached a five-year high with 58 submissions.

A generous donor surprised everyone with a $45,000 contribution, allowing the foundation to award 32 scholarships totaling $68,000. This included a $2,000 scholarship funded by the Central Washington Region Nurses Association.

Record strikes in 2023 (half in healthcare)

In 2023, U.S. labor unions embarked on the highest number of strikes in 23 years as they sought wage increases, benefits, and better working conditions for their members.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in its annual report of work stoppages, tracked 33 major strikes and lockouts (involving more than 1,000 workers) in 2023, the largest number since 39 stoppages in 2000. There was also a big uptick in the number of workers involved in labor actions (458,900) from 2022 (120,600)—with over half of these occurring in a healthcare setting, including the Kaiser Permanente walkout of 75,000 workers, the largest recorded healthcare strike in U.S. history.

A look at a nursing pioneer

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Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first African American in the U.S. to graduate from nursing school and work as a professional nurse.

After graduation in 1879, she went on to work as a private care nurse, and in 1908, Mahoney co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses.

Today, 279,600 nurses—9.9% of RNs in the United States—self-identify as Black or African American, according to Minority Nurse.

WSNA to transition to digital communications format

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The Washington State Nurses Association is excited to announce a significant transition in how we communicate with our members. This fall, WSNA will launch a monthly newsletter, accelerate our pace in enhancing the content and features of our website, and shift to printing The Washington Nurse magazine on an annual schedule. This will allow us to provide more timely updates, engage with our community more interactively, and significantly reduce our environmental impact.

Why the change?

More and more of our members are accessing information from WSNA digitally: through email, on the website, or via social media. Refocusing our resources to send frequent, timely digital updates rather than a print publication mailed just three times per year will allow us our meet our nurses where they are at and support them more effectively.

What does this mean for ‘The Washington Nurse’ magazine?

The Washington Nurse has long been a cornerstone of our communications. To maintain this valuable resource, we will transition to an annual magazine format. This once-a-year comprehensive edition will feature in-depth articles, celebrate our accomplishments, and look back on the year’s highlights. The final edition of our three-times-a-year version of The Washington Nurse will come out in the fall of 2024.

Digital enhancements

As part of our shift to digital, we will increase the frequency of our communications with a monthly newsletter launching this November. The newsletter will be sent via email and will include videos, photos, viewpoints from members, surveys, event highlights, legislative updates, labor actions, and other timely news from WSNA.

We will also be enhancing our website, publishing more video content and photo galleries and adding new interactive features over time.

Sustainable and responsible communication

A significant benefit of printing the magazine annually will be a big reduction in our environmental footprint — a concern we have heard about from our members. By reducing the use of ink, paper, and physical distribution, we are committing to a more sustainable practice.

We understand the value of the print edition of The Washington Nurse magazine for many of our members, but we are confident that this new direction will enhance our ability to meet the needs of our members in a more timely and richer way.

We welcome your feedback and participation in shaping our community’s future. Email communications@wsna.org.

Nurse legislators decline in numbers

As of Jan.1, 2023, there were 72 nurse legislators in 36 states, according to a study in the January-February issue of Nursing Outlook. These nurse legislators’ affiliations were divided almost evenly between the two major parties (38 Republicans and 34 Democrats). Sixty legislators serve on health committees and 32 on finance committees. Fourteen serve in states that have full-time legislatures. The majority (n = 60) are up for reelection in 2024.

In 2013, there were 97 nurse legislators in 39 states. Over the last decade, the number of nurse legislators has declined.

Want to run for office? Contact WSNA Director of Government Affairs Jessica Hauffe.

WSNA staff contact

New health equity continuing education requirement

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In December 2023, the Washington Board of Nursing (WABON) approved new health equity continuing education requirements.

All licensed RNs and LPNs must complete two hours of health equity continuing education by their 2026 renewal date. After 2026, nurses must complete two hours of health equity continuing education every year.

The two hours of health equity continuing education count toward the required eight hours of continuing education required yearly.

For more information, go to nursing.wa.gov and search for health equity.

Apply for a Washington multistate license

Washington joined the Nurse Licensure Compact on July 24, 2023.

Under the Nurse Licensure Compact,nurses can practice in Washington state and other NLC states and territories, without getting additional licenses.

Nurses whose primary state of residence is Washington can now apply to upgrade to a multistate license (MSL).

The upgrade fee is $65.

Nurses must complete an FBI background check and meet all Uniform Multistate License requirements.

For more information, visit https://nursing.wa.gov/msl.

The cost of nurse turnover

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An article published in Becker’s Hospital Review on April 7 about the cost of nurse turnover, noted that nurse shortages and mounting labor costs are among health system CEOs’ top concerns. Becker’s also reported results from a new survey: The 2024 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report.

The survey, which featured input from 400 hospitals in 36 states on RN turnover, retention, vacancy rates, recruitment metrics, and staffing strategies, found that the average cost of turnover for one staff RN grew from January through December 2023 to $56,300.

Among other findings, the survey found that the national RN vacancy rate sits at 9.9%. Becker’s reported that “[t]his marks an improvement, as hospitals hired an additional 153,000 RNs in 2023 and lowered the vacancy rate by 5.8%.”

Become a nurse preceptor for student nurses

Volunteer with your employer to become a preceptor for student nurses and get a monetary incentive for your time and effort. Nurses can be reimbursed up to $850 for precepting student nurses and may precept up to two students per term.

Eligibility criteria

  • An active, unencumbered nursing license, one year of clinical practice experience, and employment at an approved practice site.
  • Completion of at least 80 qualifying hours of precepted clinical instruction per student.
  • Students must be enrolled in a Washington state nursing program (out-of-state programs do not qualify, even if the clinical hours take place in Washington).
  • RN and LPN pre-licensure students must be in the final term of clinical.
  • Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner students can be in any clinical cycle for reimbursement.