A bill is being considered in New York state that would offer compensation for clinicians who participate in programs to mentor practitioners getting their start. 

The legislation would provide them $5,000 in compensation.

Susan Birkhead, dean of St. Peter’s Health Partners Schools of Nursing, is pushing for the bill’s passage. She argues the first step in training nurses who will stay in the profession is a good teacher, often in the form of a preceptor. 

Preceptors are health care workers who mentor and supervise emerging clinicians as they complete their required clinical work. 

“They take the student nurse, or the student physical therapist, whatever occupation under their wing, and shows them the ropes,” she said. 

Supporters say the legislation would create an incentive for more experienced nurses to pass on their institutional knowledge, hopefully increasing ranks in the process. 

Mary Cassandra, a senior nursing student, drove home the importance of the program to emerging clinicians.  

“It’s one thing to read a lesson in a textbook or practice in a lab, it's another to have a professional in your field who has been in your shoes by your side to guide you along the way,” she told reporters. 

The bill has bipartisan support. 

Republican state Senator Jake Ashby said it is part of an effort to strengthen the health care workforce with many skilled workers leaving during the pandemic, ensuring there is access to that important training.

“We’ve lost a lot of institutional knowledge and a lot of opportunities for our new health care clinicians coming into the workforce,” he said. 

Democratic Assembly Member John McDonald added that it’s also about recognizing the hours the individuals dedicate to educating the next generation.

“We need to recognize the hard work that those preceptors carry out,” he said. 

Birkhead told Spectrum News 1 that supporting the bill means supporting the long-term “health” of the health care system. 

“You have to take the long view. If you are properly orienting and teaching new practitioners, they’ll stay,” she said. 

The stipend would come in the form of a pilot program that would seed a $5 million grant from the state Education Department.