Gov. Hochul extends deadline for out-of-state nurses to get licensed

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UPDATE: The Executive Order was extended after this report was filed.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – “We’re definitely in a better spot than we were last year, we’re sort of rebuilding,” said URMC’s Chief Nurse Executive Karen Keady.

Keady said their staffing situation has improved since Gov. Hochul’s emergency order was instated in the Fall of 2021. The emergency order was due to a health care staffing crisis from the pandemic. Part of that allowed nurses from other states to practice here.

“There’s renewed interest in nursing, which is great, we’re seeing higher levels of nursing students coming into schools, which gives me a lot of hope,” she said.

She said they’ve been relying heavily on contracted nurses from out-of-state. Gov. Hochul’s executive order during the pandemic allowed them to work her, with licenses from other states.

Now, many of them want to stay. But the process of getting licensed in New York State, hasn’t been easy.

“Actually all of them have applied for New York State licenses, and we are waiting for that to happen,” said Keady. “Our concern is that when that EO goes away, that piece is also going to be affected and that makes me very concerned. It’s taking us a while to get those licenses.”

In the last two weeks, she says 17 nurses were able to get their licenses. But….

“We will not meet that deadline of May 22. So the nurses I have on staff now without that license, technically can’t work after that time,” she said.

Keady said these nurses make up a small amount of their staff, but their presence helps a lot.

“Given that they are specialty nurses, they work in the ICU, operating rooms. Just one or two of them not coming in, could pose a huge safety risk for us as well as a staffing shortage.”

“The rest of the executive order, we’re very comfortable with that going away, we’re ready to slide into prepandemic work behaviors.”

That executive order also allowed for more flexibility for graduate students to enter the workforce, and more flexibility for what EMS workers can do as it relates to the COVID pandemic.

In a statement, Rochester Regional Health said they would strongly support an extension.

Full statement from Rochester Regional Health:

“Rochester Regional Health (RRH) strongly supports the extension of the executive order while the Legislature continues to consider important workforce-related bills addressing licensure, and scope of practice flexibilities, that are essential in addressing the ongoing workforce crisis in healthcare. We continue working with our government partners for opportunities to support our workforce, and provide quality care for the communities we serve.”