During a special meeting on Thursday evening, the North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) took additional actions related to COVID-19, including easing certain licensure requirements for physician assistants and nurse practitioners. NCMB also extended the term of emergency temporary licenses issued to out-of-state and recently retired or inactive clinicians, and approved a provision that will allow NCMB to be more nimble in making additional changes needed to support our state’s pandemic response in the coming weeks.
These and other actions provide flexibility to health systems and practices across the state addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Board actions approved at the April 9 special meeting include:
• Authorized the extension of the expiration date of emergency temporary licenses issued during the declared state of emergency. These temporary licenses will now expire 30 days after the state of emergency is lifted. Read the order authorizing this change.
• Approved an order allowing new physician assistant (PA) graduates who have not taken the required PANCE testing to be issued a temporary license. The license will be valid for up to six months and will allow a PA to practice under the supervision of an on-site physician. Read the order authorizing this change.
• Approved several provisions related to nurse practitioners (NP), who NCMB jointly regulates with the North Carolina Board of Nursing (NCBON), that mirror provisions approved for PAs. The NCBON is expected to approve the same orders, which are effective only during the current declared state of emergency. These NP-specific provisions include:
o Restrict prescribing of chloroquine, azithromycin and other medications to ensure that these drugs are available to patients who need them. The rule was requested by NC DHHS Secretary, Dr. Mandy Cohen, to reduce the occurrence of reported stockpiling or inappropriate prescribing of these medications. NCMB has adopted equivalent rules for physicians and PAs.
o Permit NPs who have inactivated professional licenses within the last two years to quickly reinstate their licenses. The temporary license will be jointly approved by NCBON and NCMB and will expire on August 1, 2020. Read the order authorizing this change.
o Allow recent NP graduates who have not taken the required testing to be issued a temporary license. The license will be valid for up to six months and will allow an NP to practice under the supervision of an on-site physician. Read the order authorizing this change.
o Allow NPs to be temporarily reassigned to a new practice area within the same facility to meet a critical need without formally notifying NCBON of the new practice setting. NPs can only be reassigned to perform medical tasks they are trained and competent to do and must have reasonable access to a physician if the need for consultation arises. The NP must meet all other requirements, including meeting at least monthly with a physician to ensure meaningful collaboration and quality assurance within the new practice setting. Read the order authorizing this change.
• Reviewed Gov. Cooper’s Executive Order #130, which delegates authority to the state’s healthcare licensing boards to temporarily waive or modify certain legal and regulatory constraints on the state’s healthcare workforce. The order includes a requirement that physicians and PAs who are licensed in other states and want to work or are currently working in North Carolina to seek authorization from NCMB. Out-of-state physicians and PAs should apply for a Limited Emergency License using this application.
• Approved a recommendation to delegate authority to approve future emergency measures to the NCMB Executive Committee if a quorum of board members is not achieved.
NCMB is working in partnership with many stakeholders and working quickly to identify opportunities to support the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. NCMB will continue to publish information on these and other measures to address the crisis at www.ncmedboard.org/covid.