On August 14, 2020, Deidre S. Gifford, MD, MPH, Acting Commissioner of the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health (“DPH”), issued a long-awaited order in response to the constant and regular requests by practical nursing program educators to the State of Connecticut Board of Examiners for Nursing (“BOEN”) that practical nursing students (i.e., LPNs) be allowed to satisfy a portion of their clinical learning requirements through simulation or virtual learning.  See, https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Coronavirus/20200814-DPH-order-regarding-LPN-virtual-simulation-training.pdf

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, practical nursing students have not been permitted to satisfy their clinical learning objectives as the clinical sites which typically afford practical nursing students clinical learning experience (e.g., skilled nursing facilities) cancelled student clinical rotations making it impossible for students to complete their education, some students just weeks short of graduation.  Repeated efforts by practical nursing programs requesting that the BOEN waive regulatory requirements to allow the practical nursing students much needed flexibility to satisfy some of their clinical hours through simulation were unsuccessful.

Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic created a “significant need for expansion of the healthcare workforce in Connecticut”, DPH senior staff and the Acting Commissioner of DPH took the matter into their own hands.  Now, because of the Acting Commissioner's order, Connecticut practical nursing students are allowed to satisfy 25% of their in-person clinical experiences through virtual learning in compliance with the Simulation Guidelines for Pre-licensure Nursing Programs established by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.  A truly welcomed move by DPH for the benefit of Connecticut's healthcare workforce.

Originally published by Shipman & Goodwin, August 2020

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