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Graduating Michigan State health care students can aid coronavirus outbreak response

Executive order grants expedited provisional licenses to health care workers

A nurse holds a swabs and test tube kit to test people for COVID-19, the disease that is caused by the new coronavirus, at a drive through station set up in a hospital parking lot.
A nurse holds a swabs and test tube kit to test people for COVID-19, the disease that is caused by the new coronavirus, at a drive through station set up in a hospital parking lot. (Paul Sancya/AP)

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Graduating health care students at Michigan State University will be available to aid the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak much sooner than expected.

Michigan Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order that will provide expedited provisional licenses to qualified individuals in the health industry so that they can begin working right away.

This order aims to benefit Michigan’s hospitals and medical centers, which are facing a shortage of medical professionals to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related: Coronavirus in Michigan: Here’s where we stand today

MSU is working with the Michigan Department of Licensure and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to expedite licensure processes for its graduating students.

From MSU, 87 baccalaureate-prepared nurses, 61 medical doctors and 213 osteopathic physicians will be graduating and available to contribute to the COVID-19 response, officials said.

Nursing students in Michigan are normally required to pass the NCLEX-RN exam to receive their license and enter the workforce. However, Lara has set up temporary licenses for RN students under Whitmer’s executive order -- allowing nursing students to practice as registered nurses ahead of their licensure and under appropriate supervision, MSU officials said.

MSU officials say these graduating nursing students will have 740 contact hours through the nursing program once they complete the program in May.

Graduating students from MSU’s colleges of Human and Osteopathic Medicine can begin their residencies before the end of April instead of their typical July start date, according to officials. Graduating osteopathic physicians have completed eight years of college education in addition to thousands of hours of clinical activity as part of their learning, MSU officials said.

“MSU has one of the largest training programs of health professionals in the nation," said MSU Executive Vice President for Health Sciences Dr. Norman J. Beauchamp, Jr. “We recognized early in the pandemic that additional providers would be needed. We actively pursued a pathway to make it possible. Adding more than 350 medical professionals to the health care workforce at this critical juncture will make a substantive difference in combating this virus. Together, everything is possible.”

The executive order also enables individuals to volunteer or provisionally renew their license to practice.

Click here to read the full executive order from Whitmer.

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