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Renewing nursing licenses made easier to address shortage during pandemic

KOKH – Oklahoma City logo KOKH – Oklahoma City 1/22/2021 Connor Hansen
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While hospitals face a surge of coronavirus patients, Oklahoma has been dealing with a shortage of nurses.

Thursday night, there were 1,634 people hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout the state, 438 in ICUs.

Now, the state is making it easier for nurses to renew their licenses if they feel like stepping in to help out.

“Oklahoma has suffered from a nursing shortage for many years," said Dr. Jaye Robertson from the OU College of Nursing. "The nursing shortage is not new, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has really exacerbated that shortage."

Hospitals and educators have been trying to find ways to bring in more nurses during a difficult time.

The OU College of Nursing teamed up with Oklahoma Career Tech to try and make it easier for nurses to renew their licenses.

“If they did not go ahead and pass their boards when they first finished their program, or they forgot to renew, then this is the requirement," said Lara Morris from Oklahoma Career Tech.

New changes shorten part of the course from 80 hours to 40 hours if people qualify.

More of the training has been moved online, making it less expensive, and nurses can skip through some of the training faster if they pass tests first.

“I think we already had seen the numbers growing of people who are interested," Dr. Robertson said. "The fact that we can do it in a competency-based approach and get people into the practice setting quicker is very attractive to nurses who want to be there helping right now."

Nurses who renew their license will likely find a job quickly.

“A lot of nurses have been moved to other floors," Morris said. "Perhaps their background is to work with OB, but due to a shortage of nurses to be able to work in a critical care, they may move someone to that area. Well, that leaves OB with an opening.”

The changes to the refresher course went into effect last week and will be permanent.

You can find more information from Oklahoma Career Tech here.

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