Share this

There’s a Serious Nursing Shortage at Military Healthcare Facilities. A New Federal Proposal Could Help


Published December 19, 2023 · 1 Min Read

check mark Edited by
The Military Health System is in dire need of nurses, and a bipartisan proposal aims to incentivize nurses to keep working at these facilities.
There’s a Serious Nursing Shortage at Military Healthcare Facilities. A New Federal Proposal Could Help
Image Credit: shironosov / iStock / Getty Images Plus
  • Two senators from opposite sides of the aisle proposed the Retain Educated Workers and Registered Nurses Developing (REWARD) Experience Act.
  • The bipartisan proposal aims to retain nurses in the military healthcare system.
  • A recent federal report found that 85% of military healthcare facilities are experiencing a nurse shortage.

A bipartisan proposal aims to encourage more nurses to continue working within the military healthcare system amid a severe nurse shortage.

The Retain Educated Workers and Registered Nurses Developing (REWARD) Experience Act would relax strict experience requirements for nurses practicing within a military healthcare facility. Lawmakers behind the bill say current restrictions inadvertently incentivize military nurses with advanced credentials to leave military facilities for the private sector.

On December 4, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Sen. Ted Budd of North Carolina proposed the REWARD Experience Act in the U.S. Senate. Democratic Rep. Marilyn Strickland of Washington introduced a separate version of the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The proposal was driven largely by a September Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which examined 70 military installations, 85% of which reported a nursing shortage. The report added that officials at one military hospital said the private sector offered $33,000 more annually than the federal government for a similar nursing job in the same community.

Nursing was one of the most commonly reported positions that experienced shortages, according to the report.

“As our country faces a shortage of qualified nurses, this bipartisan proposal provides a common-sense fix that would cut through bureaucratic requirements to help the military keep dedicated healthcare professionals on the job without taking a pay cut,” Budd said in a statement.

According to bill cosponsors, current hiring requirements make it so that a licensed practical nurse (LPN) who transitions to become a registered nurse (RN) would have to take a pay cut if they remained at a military healthcare facility. That’s due to irregularities within the federal payscale and the experience required to reach each level.

The senators behind the bill say this requirement incentivizes nurses to transfer to the private sector.

The REWARD Experience Act would allow hiring managers at a Department of Defense medical facility to waive the experience requirement when nurses increase their licensure level. So long as nurses achieve their new license from an accredited nursing program, hiring managers can waive the experience requirement.

Both the National Military Family Association (NMFA) and Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) support the proposal, lawmakers noted.

mini logo

You might be interested in

Top LPN Programs and Schools in the Country


Updated November 22, 2022

Career Student Resources

Why Is There a Nursing Shortage?


Updated March 21, 2023 · 4 Min Read

Nurse Spotlight

Meet a Military Nurse


Updated March 8, 2023 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.