by Anthony Hennen
A new law in Pennsylvania makes it easier for foreign nurses to get certified in the state, expanding the potential pool of health-care workers as the state confronts a nursing shortage.
Act 22 updates nursing license requirements by allowing the State Board of Nursing to approve graduates of international nursing programs to sit for the registered nursing examination. So long as the education they received outside the United States meets the state board’s standards, graduates can get licensed much quicker than before.
“Now more than ever, we should work to alleviate needless burdens on those that are seeking to serve on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rep. Brett Miller, R-Lancaster, wrote in a legislative memo.
The legislation is another effort to trim down bureaucratic hoops that make it harder for health-care workers to get licensed and approved to work in Pennsylvania. Since the pandemic, the legislative and executive branches have abolished some excessive health care restrictions that caused problems.
In April, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law a similar bill for doctors that reduced clinical residency requirements from three years to two for graduates of international medical schools. And last year, Pennsylvania joined the Nurse Licensure Compact to make it easier for nurses licensed in other states to start working in Pennsylvania immediately, as The Center Square previously reported.
The actions have been welcomed as a way to improve working conditions for other nurses and attract more people to the health care field. Other issues, however, remain. Long wait times for licenses have caused frustration and may slow doctor’s offices and hospitals that hire nurses.
The Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners supported Act 22, one of a few changes the industry group would like to see.
The PCNP has advocated the General Assembly to approve expanded scope-of-practice legislation for nurses to be allowed to do work that they were trained for, as The Center Square previously reported. They also want to see a chief nurse officer position created in Pennsylvania and approval for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to order home health services.
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Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.