Nursing students graduating this spring have petitioned California Governor Gavin Newsom to allow them to work in hospital emergency rooms or anywhere else assistance is needed, even when they don’t have licenses to practice their profession. These are more than 10,000 students who want to help ease the pressure on health services due to the new coronavirus epidemic in the United States.
They are also trying to get the state to help them lower regulations and allow them to join the hospital workforce. Under normal circumstances, they need to complete hundreds of hours of hospital service to graduate and obtain a license.
“It’s disappointing that we can’t do anything and that we’ve been kicked out of hospitals,” Elena Brown, 21, a nursing student at the Dominican University in San Rafael, California, told Univision News. “They told us to go home because they don’t want us to spread the virus and consider us non-essential; we are 14,000 people affected ”.
Hospitals and medical officials have said that for their own safety, students should stay home.
But nursing applicants near graduation say that due to the health emergency, they can no longer meet the 75% requirement of a total of 90 clinical hours. That percentage of hours required by law, before graduation, must be dedicated to directly care for a patient.
“If they reduce the number of service hours to 50%, many of us could help because most of us have already completed half the hours,” said Brown. “We can help the workforce and the health community take people’s vital signs, without having to be with sick patients.”
Sarah Gardner, spokesperson for the Dominican Republic University of California told Univision News that the Association of California Colleges of Nursing (CACN) sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Board of Registered Nurses to respond for the discontinuation of rotations clinics where students participate. This has forced nursing schools to look for alternatives for students to meet their clinical hours.
“This will result in California’s new 2020 nursing corps being delayed once they graduate and will not be able to enter the workforce as registered nurses for the next six months,” the letter says. “This will significantly impact public health.”
Governor Gavin Newsom has indicated that his team is considering allowing nursing students to obtain a license earlier, but his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on details. The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN), which handles the licenses, has also not intervened publicly.
They ask to lift regulations
However, it released a letter from Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar, where he guides governors and details the steps to “extend the capacity of the health care workforce” to properly manage the growing crisis created due to the covid-19 pandemic.
These recommendations include the temporary exemption from licensing requirements for healthcare providers, who are licensed and registered or certified.
The letter encourages states to relax regulations related to telemedicine, including establishing patient-provider relationships, and restrictions in settings where healthcare professionals can see patients.
In Texas, Governor Gregg Abbot announced the suspension of certain regulations of the Board of Nursing for the renewal of nursing licenses.
“Nurses are essential to protect the public health and safety of our communities as we fight the COVID-19 virus,” Governor Abbott said on his Twitter account. “With these temporary waivers, Texas nurses can continue to care for patients without worrying about possible delays or barriers imposed … Texas is committed to ensuring that they have the resources and support they need to do their job in dealing with this public health emergency “
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Taking action to expand hospital capacity across the Lone Star State.https: //t.co/kOyRNyxb1d pic.twitter.com/Ab3mR7lUeQ
– Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) March 25, 2020
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The waiver authorizes a six-month grace period for nurses with expired licenses, allowing reputable nurses to practice. It also allows nurses additional time to renew their license without additional fees and fines.
In Virginia, a report by The Daily Progress reported that Governor Ralph Northam said he had issued an executive order that gave nursing homes and hospitals more flexibility to add beds. Currently, in that state they must comply with the necessary certificate laws to expand the capacity of attention, so the order will reduce the bureaucracy to do so.