LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A lack of nurses has prompted Nevada hospital and nursing associations to call on lawmakers for licensing changes. This is after a shortage that continues to plague hospitals in Nevada.

Lawmakers heard opinions for and against Assembly Bill 108 in Carson City with some nursing unions making it clear that they are not on board with the proposal.

“Nevada needs to recruit more than 5,000 registered nurses, just to meet the national average,” Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui said.

Jauregui and members of the Nevada Nursing Association and the Nevada Hospital Association want to make Nevada a nursing compact state which would allow nurses from out of state to practice here in Nevada.

“By passing this bill it will provide access to nursing care for Nevada patients especially in those rural and frontier counties,” Nicki Aaker, president of the Nevada Nursing Association said.

Dr. Lisa Nicholas, Asst. professor for UNLV’s School of Nursing is also in favor of the bill as she agrees the help is needed but wants to make sure the state is getting quality over quantity.

“I appreciate that there is attention to this topic, but there needs to be a longer-term fix. Trying to expedite nurses for licensure to work it’s a nice start, but you also have to look at what sort of nurses they are trying to expedite,” Nicholas said.

As for those opposed to AB108, many stated to the legislature that this potential bill doesn’t address the inadequate working conditions nurses in Nevada have to endure.

“Instead of trying to bring nurses from other states, we should be trying to take care of our own. It’s a disservice to our nurses and patients that we still haven’t addressed, staffing ratio in our hospitals,” Executive Director of Service Employees International Union, Garce Vergara Mactal said.

Currently, Nevada is one of a handful of states not part of the nursing licensure compact, whereas 37 other states have signed on since it was created two decades ago.

Jauregui sponsored the bill and acknowledged that in no way will it fix the problem in its entirety, but is meant to fill vacancies.

Currently, the nursing union represents more than 8,000 nurses and health care professionals in Nevada.