Coalition Urges Flexibility for 14,000 Healthcare Workers

YUBA CITY – This week, Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) built a coalition of lawmakers who sent a letter urging state officials to make regulatory changes in order to add 14,000 nursing students to help in the fight against COVID-19.

“The Governor’s Executive Order was a good first step, but it didn’t solve the nursing student problem entirely,” said Gallagher. “With COVID-19 expected to continue putting significant strain on California’s healthcare system, we need government regulators to put petty politics aside and relax some of their rigid guidelines. Anything short of that is irresponsible.”

The attached letter spearheaded by Gallagher requests that Department of Consumer Affairs and the Board of Registered Nursing act quickly to utilize authority given in Governor Newsom’s recent Executive Order to grant nursing faculty maximum flexibility necessary to achieve course objectives and allow nursing students to meet clinical requirements.

“The support from so many legislators demonstrates the enormity of the issue,” said Karin Lightfoot, Director of the School of Nursing at Chico State. “This bipartisan request for the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Board of Registered Nursing to grant nursing faculty maximum flexibility to meet course objectives will allow nursing students across the state to continue with their education. This is a gift to our students, our communities, and the overall healthcare system.”

Hospitals have cancelled clinical rotations, leaving thousands of nursing students unable to graduate and begin treating patients. Regulatory flexibility will help nursing students meet graduation requirements and enable them to join the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19. Governors of several states have waived the 75% direct patient care requirement for those students who are on schedule to meet the requirements for program completion/graduation either now or in the future.

“This plea for legislative action offers flexibility to allow students to enter the workforce as quickly as possible. We need nursing students to graduate nursing programs and complete the semester they are currently enrolled in.  Nursing programs need to have the ability to meet clinical requirements with robust virtual simulation platforms.  We are thankful for this legislative support of our nursing students to help them graduate and complete the semester by allowing virtual simulation for the remainder of this semester. We need our nursing students to graduate and assist on the front lines during this critical time,” said Laurie Meyer, Nursing Department Chair, Butte College.

“We applaud Assemblyman Gallagher for his leadership and dedication to our nursing students.   Our nursing programs statewide need the ability to increase the amount of clinical simulation so our students can graduate and enter the workforce.  We are reaching a crisis point in which nursing students are at risk for not being able to graduate this May.  There is a simple solution.  Allow nursing programs to increase simulated clinical experiences during this pandemic,” said Linda Zorn, Executive Director, Butte College Economic and Workforce Development.