COVID-19: States Cut Red Tape on Nurse Licensing for Crisis Response
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Amid the current Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, federal and state governments are working together to ensure that healthcare providers are available to help patients in the areas that are hardest hit. That includes bringing in travel nurses across state lines when necessary.
To that end, governors allow their state boards of nursing to temporarily change their licensing restrictions and slash the time normally needed to apply and be approved for crisis response nursing jobs.
We’ve pulled together some important information about these changes in nurse licensing.
Verifying Current Nursing Licenses
Current and prospective travel nurses who work with AMN Healthcare’s travel nursing partners can help their recruitment team verify all the states where they hold a valid license to practice. In addition, they can use NCSBN’s national Nursys online database or the state board sites to check their nurse licensure quickly.
Nurses who already hold a multistate nursing license as part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) can quickly get to work in more than 30 states that participate in the compact.
STATE REGULATORY CHANGES IN NURSE LICENSURE DUE TO COVID-19
The majority of states have announced they are temporarily changing certain requirements that will affect nurses practicing in their states due to the impact of the coronavirus on their healthcare workforce. Every state, territory, and the District of Columbia have now declared a state of emergency, allowing nurses licensed in other states to be fast-tracked for practice.
Our recruitment professionals stand ready to help travelers get the required licensing and approvals to work in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Here are some changes being enacted in states with high needs for travel nurses*:
Alabama. Because of the current state of emergency, you can practice nursing in Alabama for up to 30 days if you have a valid nursing license in another state, and your employer can verify that license. After 30 days, you will need to apply for a temporary permit to practice for another 90 days.
Alaska. The state of Alaska is granting 30-day non-renewable licenses for telehealth in emergency services to anyone with an Alaska nursing license (including RNs, LPNs, and APRNs).
California. The state’s Emergency Medical Services Authority proclaimed on March 24 stating that licensed medical personnel from other states who enter California “to assist in preparing for, responding to, mitigating the effects of and recovering from COVID-19 shall be permitted to provide services in the same manner as prescribed in Government Code section 179.5, concerning licensing and certification.” The EMS Authority will only accept requests for out-of-state medical personnel approval from a California medical facility, a telehealth agency contracted with a California medical facility, or a staffing agency providing staffing to California medical facilities. CA EMSA Out of State Approval Request Form.
Colorado. The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies is working to increase the number of nurses available to provide care by adjusting licensure requirements. If you have a license to practice in another state, they expedite the process to get licensed in Colorado. More information about emergency measures will be released soon.
Georgia. According to recent adjustments by the Georgia Board of Nursing, you can apply for a temporary nursing license to practice in Georgia as an advanced practice registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, or registered nurse. The board is waiving the application fee.
Louisiana. You can apply to the Louisiana State Board of Nursing for an emergency temporary permit that will remain valid for 60 days as long as you hold a current unrestricted license in another state, can provide a valid ID and a copy of your professional license to the board to be used for verification.
Maryland. If your Maryland nursing license is scheduled to expire during the current state of emergency, you will be granted an extension. Your license’s expiration date will be extended to the 30th day after the state of emergency ends.
Massachusetts. Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing will expedite reciprocal license applications for nurses who are licensed in another jurisdiction. All fully completed applications with documents and fees will be processed within one business day.
New Hampshire. Out-of-state nurses who intend to work in NH to assist with the COVID-19 response should complete an application for emergency license and submit verification of licensure. NH will issue a single state emergency temporary license.
New Jersey. Under the regulatory waivers, individuals who hold current healthcare licenses and certifications in good standing in other jurisdictions and have been practicing within the last five years will secure NJ licenses by completing a simple form. DCA intends to grant applications within hours of receiving the form.
New York. Currently, pursuant to Executive Orders, out-of-state licensed physicians, registered professional nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, and respiratory therapists do not need to hold an NYS license or registration to practice in the State of New York. All other NYS licensed professionals must be licensed in the State of New York to practice.
North Carolina. North Carolina is allowing a temporary waiver of state licensure requirements for healthcare and behavioral health personnel who are licensed in another territory or the District of Columbia to provide healthcare services within the "Emergency Area."
North Dakota. North Dakota has temporarily suspended licensure requirements for healthcare professionals, including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and APRNs.
Ohio. The Ohio State Board of Nursing has activated an expedited process for reviewing and granting temporary licenses to nurses from other states who hold valid, current unencumbered licenses. Once you receive a temporary license, you should be able to practice within five business days–or fewer, if the board receives an application for reciprocity.
Oregon. Update: The Oregon State Board of Nursing is now asking nurses and nursing assistants who want to work in the state during the current coronavirus crisis to apply for emergency licensure online. Also, a medical center’s chief nursing officer can also file an application to hire nurses or nursing assistants from other states to practice during the current state of emergency.
Texas. The Texas governor gave the Texas State Board of Nursing the ability to adjust temporary licensure for out-of-state nurses. The board is fast-tracking the temporary licensure of nurses to help the state’s response to COVID-19. Employers will have to notify the board if they plan to hire nurses to practice under this exception, and if needed, they can do this after the nurse is hired. Updated: Texas is allowing temporary permits to nurses who have yet to take the licensing exam and is suspending other regulations for students to assist with the state's response to Covid-19. Nurses with inactive licenses or retired nurses will be allowed to reactivate their licenses, too.
Vermont. Nurses from other states can apply to the Vermont Office of Professional Regulation for a temporary license. To qualify, you must have a current license and be in good standing, with no disciplinary proceedings in any other jurisdiction. With a temporary license, you will be able to practice in Vermont for 90 days or until an end to the state of emergency has been declared. Fees for required licensure to practice will be waived.
Washington. At the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis, Washington’s state board of nursing has expedited the application process. It will be awarding temporary practice permits if nursing applicants meet all the licensure requirements. If you meet all the requirements but still need a completed FBI fingerprint background check, you can still get a temporary practice permit while waiting on the results of that background check. Healthcare facilities can contact the board to receive expedited approval temporary practice permits for licensed out-of-state nurses in good standing.
West Virginia. The governor of West Virginia has announced the state is suspending several statutory regulations, which should make it easier for medical providers to practice in West Virginia during a state of emergency. For example, the state is suspending the requirement that telemedicine can only be performed by video. Out-of-state RN, APRN, and DT’s that would like to work in West Virginia during the State of Emergency need to fill out this form and scan and email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Please note that this information is evolving and may frequently change at the state level. Some additional states may also be changing their licensing requirements in the coming weeks.
AMN Healthcare is here to help our client facilities and candidates during this time. Please get in touch with your representative if you need staffing or placement assistance.