The lure of sun and sand brings compact nurses to Guam



Among the issues that Guam’s health care system is dealing with during the pandemic is the lack of qualified nurses. Currently, Guam nurses are “making it work” and “doing the best we can,” Dr. Joleen Aguon, medical director of Guam Memorial Hospital, said at a recent press conference.


But that isn’t very comforting to the frontline workers who are working long hours to keep up with the surge in hospitalized patients.


The demand for experienced, licensed nurses during the pandemic has been felt all over the U.S., and Guam is no exception. As a result, “travel nurses” have been reaping the benefits with staffing agencies and their clients – hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, doctors’ offices and hospices – offering high paying, temporary positions with incentives to lure nurses to work in frontline jobs with Covid patients.


In 1999, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing created two interstate compacts to reduce regulatory barriers to cross-border nursing for licensed practical/vocational nurses, registered nurses, and advanced practice registered


Following the enactment of legislation authored by. Sen. Mary Torres, Guam became the first U.S. territory to enter the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact, with partial implementation until 2022. For now, nurses licensed in compact states on the mainland can come to Guam, but the reverse will not be available to Guam’s nurses until next year.