Nursing students delayed by exam protocols

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 6:58 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Anna Krinke finished her second year of nursing school at CVTC this spring, and was excited to start getting to work.

Krinke was planning on getting an LPN license to help gain experience in the field as she works toward her nursing degree.

“I figured that was something I could carry on doing casually through my final two semesters of nursing school,” Krinke said.

Instead of working through the summer as she planned, Krinke said she had a hard time getting her approval to test with the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). For Krinke to take the exam for her LPN license, she needed to get her approval to test from the DSPS.

On May 17, Krinke said she applied for her approval to test, and after three weeks with no update, she started to contact the DSPS.

“I called the DSPS at least once a week. I would be on hold for an hour or longer, and sometimes it would just disconnect me because they were so overloaded,” Krinke said.

Krinke ended up getting her approval to test in late July, over two months after she applied. The delay for individuals to get their approval to test not only prevented her from starting a new job, Travis Christman, HSHS Sacred Heart, and St Joseph’s Hospitals Chief Nursing Officer, said it raises another concern.

“Statistics actually show specifically in nursing that the longer you wait to test, the more likely you are to have trouble passing the end,” Christman said. “So, it’s important for students to move through the process quickly.”

Krinke agreed with that concern.

“It was incredibly frustrating because two months is a long time to go without utilizing that knowledge that you’ve worked so hard to gain and all those skills that you’ve worked so hard to obtain,” Krinke said.

But, until the wait times are resolved, aspiring nurses like Krinke will have to continue to wait before jumping into their new jobs.

“It’s not the people answering the phone at the DSPS. That’s not their fault,” Krinke said. “Everybody is working as hard as they can, but something needs to be done to remedy the situation so we can move forward and get new nurses out there and working.”

Krinke said she plans to apply for her approval to test for her RN license long before she graduates, to prepare for potential delays in the process.

WEAU reached out to the DSPS. They declined an interview, but sent the following statement:

“We handle applications for approximately 3,000 nursing graduates every spring. The first step is to issue authorizations to take their national exams (the NCLEX). After that, applicants with passing scores are able to be licensed.

We have already issued approval to test to the vast majority of qualified nursing graduates, and we continue to assist remaining applicants with outstanding documentation so that they, too, will be eligible to sit for their exams.

Another factor to consider is that since May 16 we have been transitioning to a new online licensing platform for nursing and other health applicants. During implementation we realized that we could and should further automate the approval to test step. We are now working on integrating with national exam centers to expedite approval to test for future graduates.

Occupational licensing is the agency’s top priority, and we are pursuing every possible resource to deliver the best possible service to our applicants. We will continue to advocate to invest more of our fee revenue back into our people and processes so that we can license qualified applicants as quickly and conveniently as possible.”

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