As part of Georgia’s new immigration law, health care workers are required to prove their citizenship or legal residency in order to renew their medical licenses. Unfortunately, this requirement comes at a time when staff at the secretary of state’s office was just cut by 40 percent.
Mixing a smaller staff with more paperwork to process has indeed caused a headache for all involved. With processing taking longer, may health care workers are seeing their licenses expire.
It used to be that license renewal for doctors, nurses, and pharmacists was straightforward and quick. Now, the renewal process is taking much longer and with health care professionals used to the formally speedy process, many are left with expired professional licenses.
Kelly Farr, Georgia’s deputy secretary of state, recently told NPR that 600 nurses alone have already hit trouble.
‘There’s nothing more frustrating than getting that call from the desperate nurse, knowing ... she’s being slowed down because we literally don’t have enough people to click the approve button,’ Farr said.
While the secretary of state’s office handles renewals for nurses, pharmacists and veterinarians, the Georgia medical board is responsible for doctors, physical assistants, and others. Still, the same problem has arisen with the medical board.
Either there are too renewals to go over and too few people to go over them, or the new law has caused confusion and health care workers are not sending in the proper paperwork.
The law was intended to protect Georgia’s jobs, though state officials say the process has not uncovered any undocumented immigrants.