Board temporarily changes rule so WV nursing students can graduate on time

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Having enough health care workers to take care of people is a crucial element in the fight to save the lives of those affected by COVID-19. An important move last Friday will allow nursing students to graduate on time so they can get out into the workforce.

“Students want to graduate,” said Cynthia Persily, Senior Director of Health Sciences, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. “They want to be in the workforce to help with the current crisis that we are in.”

Weeks ago colleges and universities were forced to close leaving students to complete their courses online. When it comes to registered nursing students, a rule had to be temporarily changed to allow them the opportunity to graduate on time. Last week the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses temporarily suspended a rule which said nursing education may only use simulation as a substitute for traditional clinical experiences up to 50 percent of the time.

“So we went back on Friday and said any board-approved nursing program in the state of West Virginia could utilize any means simulation, telecommunication, any other acceptable form as determined by the school,” said Sue Painter, Executive Director of the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses.

The Higher Education Policy Commission and the Board of Examiners helped by putting together a list of suggested alternatives.

“So calling patients back after they’ve had a positive screen, providing counseling for patients, all of those things that could count as clinical experiences in this new world that we are living in,” Persily said.

The move is part of ongoing efforts to make sure area hospitals are prepared to care for patients affected by COVID-19.

“There are a lot of boards and a lot of regulations that are being relaxed in this pandemic,” said Bill Crouch, Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. “The reason for that is simply that it is a pandemic we have a serious situation in which we need to have all hands on deck.”

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