SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Thousands of California nurses can’t get a job, and state regulators admit they’re to blame because of a backlog of applications that need processed.
Shauntee Rutter graduated from the San Joaquin Delta College in December. She’s among thousands of other nursing students in California who are left waiting after the state launched a new website that’s supposed to process their nursing licenses.
“I don’t know if they realize the impact they’re having on a lot of people’s lives,” she said.
Rutter has a job offer in place to be a nurse two months after her graduation, but legally she can’t take the job.
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“I’ve been offered a position, but unfortunately without our license, both my supervisor and I are stuck in a hard place, and we’re just playing the waiting game,” she said.
Rutter is required by the state to apply for a nursing license. But the process that normally takes a few weeks is now taking months.
Russ Heimerich with the State Department of Consumer Affairs says the state is behind on thousands of applications.
“I want to say about 5,000 or 6,000 applications,” he said.
He says the Board of Registered Nurses is behind as they transition from a paper application to its new online system called Breeze.
But here’s the thing: More than three-dozen state agencies will use Breeze, and the state knew it had glitches before it launched last year. In fact, the state is still working out the kinks for the nurses’ site.
“As we continue to identify the problem areas, as we continue to fix them, then things will start to move faster and faster,” Heimerich said.
And it’s entirely possible this isn’t the last time this could happen.
“I can’t promise that it won’t happen,” he said.
Assemblywoman Kristin Olson (R-Modesto) says it’s unacceptable and is demanding an audit of the system. If they state affects lives, she says someone should be held accountable.
“These students work really really hard to get their degree, and a process that used to take three days, a couple weeks is now taking 90 days or more just to take their exam,” she said.
Rutter says she may not get her license for weeks, leaving her without work despite her job offer.
“It’s not our fault that they’re understaffed; it’s not our fault that they started a new system,” she said. “They should’ve been prepared for troubleshooting problems.”
Consumer Affairs insists the new online system’s glitches aren’t causing the delays for nursing students.
Rutter doesn’t anticipate getting her license until April.