Emergency Order Eases Licensing Processes to Expand Healthcare Workforce

May 26, 2020

In response to the shortage of healthcare providers needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other medical conditions that still require care, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued an emergency order that eases licensing requirements and expands the practice of some healthcare workers. Emergency Order #16, issued March 27, includes the following components.

Interstate Reciprocity

Healthcare providers with a valid and current license in another state may practice under and within the scope of the license in Wisconsin without first obtaining a temporary or permanent license from Wisconsin’s Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). The conditions for doing so are that:

  • The practice is necessary for an identified healthcare facility to ensure the continued and safe delivery of healthcare services;
  • The healthcare provider isn’t currently under investigation and doesn’t currently have any restrictions or limitations placed on the license by the credentialing state or any other jurisdiction;
  • The healthcare facility’s needs reasonably prevented in-state credentialing in advance of practice;
  • The healthcare provider applies for a temporary or permanent license within 10 days of first working for the healthcare facility; and
  • The healthcare facility notifies the DSPS within five days of a healthcare provider practicing at its facility in reliance on the order.

“Healthcare provider” is defined under Wisconsin Statute § 146.81(1)(a) and includes nurses, physicians, physician assistants, perfusionists, respiratory care practitioners, physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, dieticians, chiropractors, podiatrists, dentists, optometrists, pharmacists, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists and other professional counselors, emergency medical services practitioners, and emergency medical responders, among others.
Temporary licenses granted under the order are valid for 30 days after conclusion of the declared emergency, including any extensions.


The order allows physicians providing telemedicine for diagnosis and treatment of patients located in Wiscon-sin to be licensed in Wisconsin, another state, or Canada.

Specific Orders Pertaining to Nurses and Physician Assistants

The order permits advance practice nurses, such as nurse practitioners and certified registered nurse anesthetists, to work more independently and in more places. Graduate nurses may practice under a temporary license until the end of the emergency or six months after the availability of the licensing exam, whichever occurs last. Certain requirements for renewal of expired nursing licenses are suspended to en-courage and allow nurses to return to the practice to assist with the COVID-19 crisis.
The order increases the number of physician assistants a physician may supervise from four to eight. It allows physician assistants to delegate tasks to other clinically trained healthcare providers.

Other Recently Expired Credentials or Licenses

The DSPS is directed to assess its records and identify healthcare providers with recently lapsed licenses who would be eligible for renewal. It also suspends certain requirements for continuing education for physician assistants, radiographers, social workers, psychologists, pharmacists, chiropractors, dentists, and physical therapists.

Bottom Line

Governor Evers hopes the measures will help ensure Wisconsinites get the care they need when they need it. If your facility is a healthcare setting and you want to add to your staff during this time of crisis, be sure you and any potential new employees who may be qualified under the new requirements are familiar with what needs to be filed and in what time frame.

This article, slightly modified to note recent updates, was featured in the May issue of the Great Lakes Employment Law Letter and published by BLR®—Business & Legal Resources. Reproduced here with the permission of BLR®—Business & Legal Resources.

Leslie Sammon
Leslie Sammon