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Governor seeks money to recruit more nurses to NM

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez proposed Wednesday that New Mexico launch an advertising campaign to aggressively recruit nursing professionals from other states to help deal with a shortage of primary care providers.

The governor plans to ask the Legislature to provide $220,000 next year for marketing directed at nurse practitioners to sell them on the advantages of New Mexico, which allows them more independence in providing medical care than many other states, including Texas. Nurse practitioners can operate their own clinics, don’t have to work under the supervision of a physician, and have the authority to prescribe medications and refer patients to specialists.

Martinez also proposed to streamline the licensing system for nurses who move to New Mexico from the more than two dozen states, including California and Oklahoma, that aren’t part of a compact providing for multistate licensure for nurses.

New Mexico faces a growing demand for medical services because of an aging population and expanded insurance coverage under a federal health care law.

More than 200,000 uninsured New Mexicans are expected to gain medical coverage through an expansion of Medicaid starting in January and through an online health insurance exchange.

“By streamlining the requirements for nurses seeking to bring their talents and skills to New Mexico, we can further ensure that more New Mexicans, especially in rural and underserved areas, will have access to the high quality of health care our families and communities deserve,” Martinez said in a statement.

In preparation for the start of next year’s legislative session in January, the governor recently outlined several initiatives to help increase the number of health care professionals in the state. The federal government considers all but one of New Mexico’s 33 counties — Los Alamos — health professional shortage areas.

A report by the Legislative Finance Committee earlier this year said state residents could face growing problems with access to medical care because of the need for 2,000 additional physicians, 3,000 registered nurses and as many as 800 dentists.

Linda Siegle, a lobbyist for the New Mexico Nurse Practitioner Council, said nurse practitioners are required in New Mexico to have advanced degrees and training beyond a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing. She said the proposed marketing campaign could help New Mexico.

“Any education of the public about health care and their access to health care providers is a good thing,” Siegle said.

She suggested New Mexico also needs to deal with problems that nurse practitioners can face in obtaining privileges from hospitals to admit patients and see them during their hospital stay. Hospitals make those decisions and it varies from hospital-to-hospital, according to Siegle.