PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - About 1,700 nursing students will graduate next month ready to help Arizona hospitals in the COVID-19 crisis, but the pandemic will pose a challenge for some trying to test for their license. Many testing sites have closed, and it could take a new graduate months to get an opportunity to take the nursing exam.
Last week, the Arizona State Board of Nursing took action to close the gap, approving a new permit that will allow recent nursing grads to practice under supervision until they can test for their license.
“Just being able to join the frontline nurses, since we’re needed now more than ever, it is very important for us to get out there,” says Annie Giang, a Phoenix woman preparing to graduate the nursing program at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
“I’m ready to help others,” says Giang, who has already accepted a tentative job offer to work at a Tucson hospital.
The residency hinges on one thing.
“They have to guarantee that I do get my license first,” says Giang.
Megan Nichols is studying to become a nurse practitioner, but when the pandemic hit, Nichols didn't hesitate to join the fight against COVID-19.
Arizona universities are in the process of educating students about the new permit opportunity. Arizona State Board of Nursing executive director Joey Ridenour says the permit could help a new grad enter the field just days after receiving their degree. The process will cut out months of delay for grads waiting for a testing opportunity and ensure a graduate keeps their skills sharp. Giang says she’s anxious and excited to help amid the pandemic.
“It will prepare us well, I think,” says Giang. “I have a huge respect for nurses and health care providers that are doing what they are doing right now, and I hope that we will join them soon.”