Oregon emergency nursing licenses about to expire; 2K applicants still awaiting permanent licenses

Oregon's nursing board has a backlog of more than 2,000 applications, which are set to expire at the end of the month, the Oregon Capital Chronicle reported June 21. 

The state issued nearly 9,000 emergency licenses throughout the pandemic to out-of-state nurses to fill in nursing gaps. Nurses need an Oregon license to practice in the state, and there are currently about 80,000 nurses licensed to practice. 

Gov. Kate Brown allowed the emergency licenses under a COVID-19 emergency declaration that ended April 1. The emergency licenses were extended from April 1 through June 30, allowing nurses with an emergency license until then to apply for an Oregon license. 

More than one-third have requested and received their Oregon license, and 2,000 are still waiting for their license to be processed. 

"We've never really had to bring in a whole lot of people all at once and still try to follow the same kind of regulatory procedures we've always had," Jana Bitton, executive director of the Oregon Center for Nursing at the University of Portland, told the Chronicle. 

The process usually takes two weeks, but the increase in requests has extended the processing time to two months as the nursing board works overtime and on weekends and holidays to process applications. 

Though the legislative emergency board recently gave the nursing board approval to hire two more full-time staff members to process applications, those positions have not been filled. If staff members were hired to fill these roles soon, they would still have to be trained, and the board would still face a backlog of applications, according to the Chronicle. 

The board is still receiving incoming applications but does not know how many more will come in.


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