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Gov. Abbott lowers regulations to expand nursing workforce during coronavirus pandemic

The Texas governor said the state will see a rising need for medical professionals to help respond to these challenging times.

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday, March 21, announced that he has waived a handful of regulations to help meet the state’s rising need for nurses as Texas reacts to the coronavirus, or COVID-19. 

According to the governor's office, these actions will help expand the nursing workforce by:

  • "Allowing temporary permit extensions to practice for graduate nurses and graduate vocational nurses who have yet to take the licensing exam."
  • "Allowing students in their final year of nursing school to meet their clinical objectives by exceeding the 50% limit on simulated experiences."
  • "Allowing nurses with inactive licenses or retired nurses to reactivate their licenses."

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"In the coming weeks and months, Texas will continue to see a growing need for medical professionals to help us respond to these unique and challenging times," said Gov. Abbott. "With these actions, Texas is taking an important step to meet that need. Nurses are essential to our ability to test for this virus, provide care for COVID-19 patients, and to continue providing other essential health care services. Suspending these regulations will allow us to bring additional skilled nurses into the workforce to assist with our efforts and enhance our COVID-19 response."

On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state will also waive certain regulations from the Texas Board of Nursing regarding licensing renewal and fees for Texas nurses. The waiver authorizes a six-month grace period for nurses with expired licenses. This period will allow nurses who are otherwise in good standing to continue practicing and will give them additional time to renew their licenses without added fees and penalties.

"Nurses are essential to protecting the public health and safety of our communities as we combat the COVID-19 virus,” said Gov. Abbott. "With these temporary waivers, nurses in Texas can continue caring for patients without worrying about potential delays or barriers imposed by the licensing renewal process. We are grateful for the nurses serving throughout our state, and Texas are committed to ensuring they have the resources and support they need to do their jobs as we face this public health emergency."

On Saturday, March 28, Abbott said he waived certain regulations, allowing for an expedited licensing reactivation process for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) in Texas. The waivers mean an APRN with a license that has been inactive for more than two years but less than four years will not have to pay an activation fee, complete continuing education credits or complete current practice requirements. For APRNs with a license inactive for more than four years, the reactivation fee and continuing education requirements will be waived.

For more information, visit https://www.bon.texas.gov/.


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