Department of Health Professions Issues Temporary Waivers to Certain Board of Nursing Licensure Requirements in Response to State of Emergency

Introduction

On March 19, 2020, the Director of the Department of Health Professions issued five temporary waivers in response to Governor Northam’s Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency in Virginia. These waivers expire on June 10, 2020, unless sooner amended. These waivers are consistent with Governor Northam’s direction to state agencies to render appropriate assistance in preparing for and mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. These waivers are intended to relax certain licensure requirements in order to increase the number of nursing personnel able to treat patients during this outbreak. Below is a summary of the changes to the regulations based on the Director’s waivers. The full waivers as issued by the Director are available here.

In general, the waivers permit new graduates who have completed licensure requirements to practice for a longer period of time prior to testing, due to the disruption in testing services. Certain clinical hours requirements have also been waived to bring nurses into the workforce more quickly, and nurse practitioner licenses will not lapse if a license is not timely renewed.

Nursing Licensure Regulations for LPNs and RNs

  • LPNs and RNs are not required to file a new application and reapplication fee if the NCLEX is not taken within 12 months of the date that the applicant became eligible. (18VAC90-19-110(C)(3)(a)).
  • A graduate who has filed a completed application for licensure in Virginia and has received an authorization letter issued by the board may now practice nursing in Virginia until they are able to take the NCLEX, but no later than 90 days following the expiration of the Executive Order. (18VAC90-19-110(F)(1)).
  • The 90-day limit on use of the designations “R.N. Applicant” and “L.P.N. Applicant” while practicing is waived until the applicant is able to take the NCLEX, but no later than 90 days following the expiration of the Executive Order. (18VAC90-19-110(F)(3)).
  • Any student who graduated from an approved nursing education program is authorized to obtain licensure by endorsement, regardless of whether they have obtained a sufficient number of clinical hours. (18VAC90-19-120(A)(1)).

Nurse Practitioner Regulations

  • The provisional license is no longer limited to six-months. Instead, an applicant may practice on a provisional license until they are able to take the certification exam. They shall take the certification exam no later than 90 days following the expiration of the Executive Order. (18VAC90-30-80(B)).
  • An applicant for licensure by endorsement as a nurse practitioner shall only be required to provide verification of licensure in good standing in another United States jurisdiction. (18VAC90-30-85(A)(2) & (B)).
  • A nurse practitioner’s license shall not automatically lapse if the licensee does not renew by the expiration date. The requirement that boards impose disciplinary action for failure to renew by the expiration date is waived. (18VAC90-30-100).

Registered Medication Aide Regulation

  • The 120-day limit on provisional practice has been waived, and applicants may continue to practice on a provisional basis until such time that the applicant can take the required examination. This waiver expires 90 days following the expiration of the Executive Order. (18VAC90-60-91(B) & (D)).

Nursing Education Program Regulations

  • The minimum hours of direct client care for registered and practical nursing students are waived, as long as the student is on schedule to meet the requirements for program completion and graduation. (18VAC90-27-100(A)).
  • The requirement that no more than 25% of direct client contact hours may be simulated is waived for students on track to meet the requirements for program completion and graduation. (18VAC90-27-100(D)(1)).
  • The limitation that no more than 50 percent of the total clinical hours for any course may be simulated is waived for all students enrolled in a clinical course. (18VAC90-27-100(D)(2)).

Nurse Aide Education Program Regulations

  • Individuals other than registered nurses or licensed practical nurses may assist a primary instructor in providing classroom instruction. (18VAC90-26-30(C)).
  • Nurse Aide instructors are not required to first demonstrate competence to teach adults. (18VAC90-26-30(D)).

Conclusion

Nursing employers should be aware of the new waivers as they seek to hire new nurses to meet staffing shortages across the Commonwealth. These waivers are temporary, and the regulations will revert back on June 10, 2020, unless sooner amended. The waivers do not waive any other statutory requirements or limitations. Those affected by these regulations should ensure that they are still compliant with all other statutory and regulatory requirements for valid licensure.

Should you, your practice, or your business have any questions about the implications of these waivers, please contact Peter Mellette, Nathan Mortier, Harrison Gibbs, Elizabeth Dahl Coleman, or Scott Daisley at Mellette PC.

This client advisory is for general educational purposes only and does not cover every provision. It is not intended to provide legal advice specific to any situation you may have. Individuals desiring legal advice should consult legal counsel for up-to-date and fact-specific advice.

Categories: Client Advisory