Emergency Rules Expand Healthcare Workforce, Aid New Graduates During COVID-19 Crisis

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Emergency Rules Expand Healthcare Workforce, Aid New Graduates 

Dear Licensee:

The Division of Professions and Occupations (DPO) has been granted authority to promulgate emergency rules for multiple professions under Executive Order D2020 038, which prioritizes essential healthcare services during the ongoing Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. These rules were implemented today, and this communication and the attached Q and A document provide details on what, and why, these emergency measures were enacted.

Since healthcare professionals are statutorily required to work within a defined scope of practice, inpatient facilities previously were unable to use readily available personnel to fill healthcare service gaps. Temporarily relaxing these restrictions -- in conjunction with the expansion of delegation for certain medical personnel --  affords hospitals the flexibility to plug readily available healthcare staff into non-traditional roles and alleviate workforce shortages at hospitals and inpatient facilities.

The suspension of certain nursing and nurse aide education requirements is another major piece designed to reinforce the state’s healthcare system.  Minus these changes, nursing students would have forfeited tuition and in many cases been unable to enter the workforce in May. The emergency actions remove regulatory barriers that will provide nursing and nurse aide students in educational programs throughout Colorado avenues towards spring and summer graduation and allows newer students to progress through their education. It also enhances the ability of nurses and certified nurse aides to enter or remain in the workforce.

The temporary transfer of emergency rulemaking authority to DPO also allowed the Director to issue temporary licenses for a number of healthcare professions regulated by the following boards and programs: Dental, Medical, Nursing, Chiropractic, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Physical Therapy, Podiatry, Respiratory Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology, and Veterinary.

New graduates within these professions have been unable to test due to the indefinite postponement of exams or limited testing site availability due to the Coronavirus. Temporary licensure now allows these new graduates to work under the supervision of a Colorado licensee until testing centers open and they have the opportunity to sit for the examination or complete approved postgraduate training.

Additionally, temporary licensure will be available to international medical graduates who are eligible for licensure as a physician but for completion of approved post-graduate education.  Temporary licensure allows these physicians, many of whom have practiced in foreign countries for years, to temporarily enter the workforce during the pandemic under the supervision of a Colorado licensed physician.

Temporary licenses are valid from the date of issuance through Dec. 31, 2020.  Applications will be available shortly on individual board and program webpages. Please continue to check the website for those applications relating to your profession. These licenses are non-renewable, and temporary license-holders must pass an exam prior to year’s end in order to obtain full licensure and continue practicing.

Information on emergency rules changes for specific professions are available here. And please watch the in-depth PowerPoint presentation on Executive Order D 2020 038 on YouTube that preceded today’s actions for more details. Please e-mail DORA_DPO@state.co.us with any other outstanding questions.


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Issued on May 1, 2020.