SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Lawmakers are already filing bills to attack the state’s severe nurse shortage by getting more people to take up the profession. Lawmakers want to fill 6,000 vacant nursing spots here in New Mexico. One idea is to help pay back student loans for nursing students and the other is to boost funding for nursing schools.

“We did some of that already in the special session but I’m doing more in the regular session because it’s providing money for all higher-education, the two-year institutions, and the four-year institutions,” said State Senator Liz Stefanics, District 39.

Story continues below:

The first bill asks for $15 million to expand and improve the state’s nursing programs. That would match what the state earmarked for nursing schools in the special session last month.

The second would set aside money to help tuition and to help pay off student loans. Right now, hospitals are scrambling for nurses and are bringing them in from other states in many cases. “Traveling nurses do fulfill a need but they are expensive, and we would rather have our own base of professional knowledge and skill right here in the state of New Mexico,” Stefanics said.

Stefanics believes there will be broad support for her bills while conceding she may not get the full amount of money she’s asking for. The 30-day session starts on January 18.