by Damon Boughamer
Public Radio Capitol News, serving Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Penna. (PRCN, 7 March 2006) -- New policies should make it easier for foreign-language nurses to get certified in Pennsylvania.
It’s something experts say the commonwealth needs as badly as the nurses themselves do.
The best example might be Puerto Rico. Nurses there train and earn certification, but if they come to Pennsylvania, they must pass an English-language test, and this is often difficult for them.
It’s not just that they want the jobs. It’s that Pennsylvania needs more foreign-language nurses – with growing and aging populations whose native tongues are Spanish, Russian, Chinese or Vietnamese.
Representative Curtis Thomas – a Philadelphia Democrat – says a regulatory board has agreed to make some changes "that now allow for a two-year window of opportunity to take and pass the exam in order to practice in Pennsylvania."
"So six months to one year is out. We now have two years – a two-year window of opportunity," Thomas says.
The state will also use an incumbent worker training program to help nurses study. Partners include Temple University and the Hospital Healthcare Workers Union.