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State suspends some nurse licensing requirements

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of State has suspended certain administrative requirements for nurses, including temporarily extending license expiration dates and waiving associated fees.

“We are taking this action to ensure that Pennsylvania has plenty of nurses available to treat patients and that these nurses do not have to worry about renewing their licenses while responding to COVID-19,” Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. “This measure also frees more than 14,000 nurse practitioners to be more flexible in meeting public-health needs in the weeks to come.”

Leaders at UPMC in the Susquehanna region continue to monitor COVID-19, according to UPMC Susquehanna Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Lopatofsky.

“At this time, our hospitals, clinics and facilities are adequately staffed to provide quality care to our patients,” he said. “We’re thankful for the Pennsylvania Department of State’s proactive approach regarding the licensing restrictions during this time.”

He noted the decision adds flexibility around the strict licensing demands for health care providers.

Additional suspensions during this time allow temporary nursing practice permits and graduate permits to be extended beyond one year and extension fees to be waived.

Registered nurses and practical nurses will not have to apply for extensions of their graduate or temporary permits.

All temporary and graduate permits that would normally expire during the next 90 days will be automatically extended for another 90 days.

In addition, registered nurses, certified registered nurse practitioners and certified nurse specialists can continue to care for patients if their licenses are “in renewal” and set to expire on April 30. These licenses will be extended for an additional three months until July 31.

Nursing school graduates who have been issued “authorizations to test” by the board, and have been unable to sit for the licensure examinations due to cancellation of the examinations because of COVID-19, and do not already have a graduate permit can apply for a graduate permit so they can assist in the COVID-19 response.

The graduate permit authorizes graduate nurses to practice under supervision of a registered nurse until they can take the examinations.

The permits expire if the graduate permit holder fails the examination.

“In response to COVID-19, Geisinger is exploring ways to redeploy staff in areas of need but we would not make any staffing changes that impact delivering critical, life-saving care to our communities,” Geisinger spokesman Marc Stempka said.

“We understand these are unprecedented circumstances for employees and we have taken several measures, such as creating a child care program, granting immediate access to sick time for those impacted by COVID-19, enhancing work-from-home capabilities and much more to accommodate the unique challenges our employees may be facing,” he said.