A bill that has already passed the S.C. House of Representatives would expedite the transition to a civilian nursing career for military veterans with health care backgrounds, like medics and corpsmen.
S.C. Reps. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, and …
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S.C. Reps. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, and Robert Ridgeway, D-Manning, spoke Monday on how the Nursing Degree Opportunity Act would address the state's nursing shortage and also help the state retain military members when they retire from the armed forces.
If passed, the legislation would help veterans with relevant experience transition into a civilian nursing job, making it quicker and easier for them to get their license, Smith and Ridgeway said.
Effectively, the bill would give colleges and universities in South Carolina the option to create a Veteran Associate of Science in Nursing degree program and a Veteran Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program.
The bill passed unanimously in the House of Representatives on Jan. 22 and was introduced the next day in the Senate and referred to the Medical Affairs Committee.
Smith said the legislation is similar to other bills in previous years regarding licensing issues for armed forces' members and their spouses. Those include teaching certificates and others.
"This is again for us to retain military members in our communities when they retire," he said. "Also, it incentivizes them to go into the nursing profession and get these licensures much easier than they would have otherwise."
Since Sumter is home to Shaw Air Force Base, Smith added he thinks the legislation would only help the health care system locally and in surrounding areas.
Both said they are very optimistic the bill will become law this year because it has bipartisan support and also because this year is the second year of a two-year session.
Ridgeway, a medical doctor himself, described the bill as a win all around for the state.
"It's a 'win-win' for South Carolina, especially for our veterans," he said. "I think we need to do everything we can for our veterans to help them not only come to South Carolina, but anything that would help them in obtaining jobs and occupations here, especially if it's related to their training in the military."
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