The global spread of COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) is a rapidly evolving situation. To help the nurses and nursing assistants on the frontlines, and to help those retirees who want to rejoin the effort, the Oregon State Board of Nursing has implemented three emergency temporary licensing changes:
- Expiration dates extensions. As of March 24, all license and certificate expiration dates have been extended 60 days, so licensees don’t need to worry about renewing their licenses during this stressful time. On the OSBN online verification system, 60 days have been added to all license expiration dates.
- Retired RNs, LPNs, and CNAs who wish to reactivate their Oregon licenses or certificates may do so now at no charge. The normal fees and fingerprint background checks for these applications have been waived during this period of crisis response. This will ease the path for approximately 2,500 RNs and LPNs and 3,100 CNAs if they choose to rejoin the workforce.
- Emergency authorizations. Per ORS 678.031(4), the Board is allowing nurses and nursing assistants licensed in another state or US jurisdiction to provide care in Oregon under special provisions.
Regarding the Use of PPE:
The OSBN does not expect any nurse or nursing assistant to work in conditions hazardous to themselves or their families. The Nurse Practice Act requires nurses to assess their situations and determine if they have the knowledge, skills, abilities (this would include the appropriate equipment), and the competency to provide safe care while keeping themselves safe. Nurses must make this decision for themselves. Please know that this does not negate any actions by nursing employers. While the Board of Nursing has jurisdiction over nursing licenses, it does not have authority over employers. Employers are entitled to make decisions regarding conditions of employment as determined by applicable contracts.
The Board does not have legislative authority to take any action against employers, other than levying a fine for letting nurses or nursing assistants continue to provide care without a valid license. The Board cannot compel an employer to change working conditions. If nurses or nursing assistants act with evidenced-based information that they are working in unsafe conditions, they are supported by the Nurse Practice Act.
Currently, there is much misinformation and conjecture regarding transmission of COVID-19, who should have PPEs, or in what cases PPEs are not necessary. Please stay informed as the science around this develops and make informed decisions about your practice that protects the safety of your patients and your own safety.
Oregon Board of Nursing