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US state cuts time taken to get nursing licence

Changes have streamlined application process, but thousands of vacancies still predicted

An American state has seen positive results after tackling its growing nurse recruitment problem by streamlining the professional licensing process for nurses.

Before the change, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services discovered it was taking an average of 73 days to process each nurse's application – 28% of which were submitted incomplete because applicants had failed to understand the process.

The department improved instructions, encouraged nursing students to apply for licences before they graduated and added a ‘commonly asked questions’ section to its website.

Department director Courtney Phillips said since the changes were introduced, 95% of applications have arrived completed and processing of licences has risen from 27 to 50 a week.

University of Nebraska Medical Centre college of nursing associate dean Liane Connelly said a further fall in the supply of nurses in the United States is expected,  as older nurses retire and many areas continue to lack sufficient training centres to replace them.

The Nebraska Center for Nursing, created to seek ways to reduce the nursing shortage, predicts there will be 3,838 vacant registered nursing positions in the state by 2020.

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