Executive order allows new nurses to practice without taking exam amid COVID-19

Posted at 6:50 PM, Apr 20, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — An executive order signed by Governor Bill Lee grants an exception for some nurses who've graduated from school, but haven't taken a final exam before they're hired.

The order, which was announced on Friday, allows new nurses who've completed all the requirements except for the National Council Licensure Exam, or NCLEX. It's the final exam before a nurse receives their license.

Tina Gerardi, Executive Director of Tennessee Nurses Association, said it will help with students who've graduated but can't take the test because the testing sites are closed.

"I think it's a way to get students entry into the work force that they would not have had if they had to wait until the testing centers are open and actually sit through their exam and get their results," said Gerardi.

A nurse practitioner at Vanderbilt, April Kapu, said these are people who've already been in the work place as assistants but want to be hired as nurses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“You’re eager to get out and start taking care of patients and they want to take the test. They want to take care of patients as quick as they can,” said Kapu.

The nurses would have to receive permission from the Commissioner of Health according to the order.


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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.