The path to becoming a nurse is a lengthy and difficult one. In combination with the shortage of nurses across the Commonwealth, this has caused only a slow trickle of nurses to be ushered into the workforce. In response, the Pennsylvania Department of State has instituted changes to increase the number of new nurses entering the practice.
According to a recent release from the Pennsylvania Department of State, acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh M. Chapman announced that ongoing improvements to Pennsylvania’s nurse licensing process will now allow new nursing school graduates to more quickly obtain a temporary practice permit (TPP) as they study for their nursing exams.
“I am pleased to report that 570 nursing graduates who have been waiting for their TPPs have received them. This means they will be able to join the healthcare workforce under the supervision and begin providing patients with needed care,” Chapman said.
“We see this improvement as one way to help ease the nursing shortage across Pennsylvania.”
TPPs allow graduates of Pennsylvania nursing schools to begin their careers in healthcare while their applications for full initial licensure are processed by the State Board of Nursing. Full initial licensure is a process that requires approximately 8 to 10 weeks for completion, so TPPs are an important tool that allows nursing graduates to work in supervised settings while they prepare to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), one of the most important requirements for Registered Nurse (RN) licensure.
“This permanent change to the TPP approval process came about for multiple reasons, including the feedback we received from nursing schools, healthcare systems, and other nurse employers, as well as from nursing applicants themselves,” Chapman said.
Previously, applicants’ criminal histories were reviewed before a TPP was granted. Under the new process, board staff will issue a TPP immediately upon confirmation of the applicant’s graduation from a Pennsylvania nursing school. Criminal history records will still be reviewed before a nursing license is issued.
“Now, we are able to issue a TPP as soon as a nursing applicant submits a full application, pays the requisite fees, and has their school provide proof they have graduated,” Chapman continued.
“In short, we changed the order of the application review process so nursing graduates are able to work in a supervised healthcare setting and gain practical experience as they prepare for their all-important NCLEX exam.”
In addition, the department has automated processes through the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS) that used to be manual, and those changes will also reduce processing times for TPPs.
“Given the extended nursing shortage across Pennsylvania, we hope this TPP process improvement makes a significant difference in the healthcare workforce as they bring on newly qualified nursing graduates preparing to take their NCLEX exam,” Chapman said.