CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - According to the North Carolina Board of Nursing, there are more than 162,000 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses in the state.
To ensure there are enough nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, the state is removing some red tape to beef up its numbers.
Chief Communications Officer for the NC Board of Nursing David Kalbacker says retired nurses or those who let their licenses expire within the last five years may contact the Board of Nursing to renew their licenses temporarily.
“You can just come back and sign on and we’ll get you up and running with a license and you won’t have to go through the refresher course,” Kalbacker said.
Several testing sites for new nurses have either closed or are scaling back on testing to meet social distancing guidelines.
Because of the delay, many graduates will have in taking their NCLEX exams, the state is allowing them to join the workforce even though they have not yet passed their boards.
“We can do waivers that would allow these new students to graduate and be what’s called a graduate nurse,” Kalbacker said.
Once the State of Emergency has ended in North Carolina, graduate nurses must pass their boards to officially become a registered nurse.
Trusted Health is a company that connects nurses to jobs around the country. Head of Clinical Innovation for Trusted Health, Dan Weberg says the company has seen a massive uptick in applicants.
Within the last two months, there have been an additional 20,000 nurses looking for work. In addition, the company is seeing more job postings for nurses.
“We’ve been seeing hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of job openings, more than a 200 percent increase in the last month due to the COVID-19 crisis,” Weberg said.
Many of the job postings are offering crisis or hazard pay rates. Weberg says the pay rates are roughly double what is usually offered. In some cases, they have seen rates top $5,000 per week.
“To pay them for the risk they are taking to go across the country to the frontlines of the COVID fight,” Weberg said.