OPINION: Who do you trust?

By Mary Camacho Torres

“To be trusted is a far greater compliment than to be loved.” George MacDonald penned that line over a hundred years ago, but its sentiment holds true today.

We talk a lot about supporting our nurses. We’re quick to craft commendatory resolutions and publicly pat them on the back for their role throughout the pandemic—and rightfully so. Despite a perennial shortage, they’ve fought tirelessly to save lives and keep this community safe.

But when they ask us for a bill to give them the support they need, suddenly we don’t trust them.

That’s the message behind the opposition to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC).

The Writing on the Wall

Long before the COVID-19 outbreak, the Guam Board of Nurse Examiners urged that adopting the NLC would make it easier for nurses in other states to practice here—decreasing wait time to get a license while increasing accountability through the Compact’s high regulatory standards.

At their request, I authored a bill in 2019 to do just that. There were clear benefits to the policy—but the truth is I did it simply because our nurses asked me to. That was over a year ago.

A String of Stop-Gap Solutions

Since then, the pandemic has only increased the demand on our already-strained healthcare system. Our island has responded with every stop-gap measure we could think of—issuing emergency licenses, requesting extensions for active-duty medical personnel, and contracting with hiring agencies at a huge expense to our public hospital.

While our Guam board moved quickly and courageously, many traveling nurses found themselves held up by a cumbersome credentialing process. Had we been members to the Compact, nurses might have gone from airplane to hospital much faster—conserving precious time and resources.

Continuing the Fight for our Front Line