(Please note: Emergency Courtesy Licenses through the Alaska Board of Nursing have been discontinued at this time. Emergency Courtesy Licenses through the Alaska State Medical Board expire on 7/1/2022. Previously issued ECLs will be valid until their expiration date, but new ECLs will not be issued.)
With COVID-19 shaping a new landscape for healthcare providers, certain prerequisites for working in the field of medicine have also changed. As a staffing agency, it’s part of our job to keep up with healthcare trends, which often means staying abreast of different requirements per state that we staff. One of the biggest changes in the last few years has been the adoption of an Emergency Courtesy License (or Courtesy License) for NPs, PAs, and physicians in the state of Alaska. In this article, we’ll break down what an Emergency Courtesy License is, how to attain one, and why they are useful for both healthcare providers and facilities hiring healthcare staff.
What is an Emergency Courtesy License?
According to the State of Alaska, for physicians and PAs, “an Emergency Courtesy License authorizes an individual to practice in Alaska during the period in which the Medical Board has determined an urgent health crisis exists.” Parameters for nurses and nurse practitioners are similar.
The emergency courtesy license is a temporary license for medical practitioners to practice medicine for a set duration of time under certain emergency conditions within the State of Alaska.
The license is good for 120 consecutive days, and then must be renewed for an additional 120 days. The emergency courtesy license can only be renewed once, for a total of 240 days (about 8 months).
We recommend that you consider the Emergency Courtesy License a temporary license and encourage all providers to also apply for a general medical or nursing license if you’re interested in working in Alaska, as well.
What Qualifies as an Emergency Condition to Attain an ECL?
At the time of this article being written, the only condition to be granted an Emergency Courtesy License is that you must be working to provide support for the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re a nurse practitioner or nurse, you will need to specify the reasons you will be working at the facility, including information about testing, treating COVID patients, or filling in for providers who are out sick due to COVID.
You must also submit information about the timeframe of your assignment and the location of the assignment. For nurse practitioners and nurses, this information must be filled out and submitted with your application.
Why are Emergency Courtesy Licenses Useful?
Since COVID-19 hit, it’s been difficult to meet the needs of healthcare facilities promptly. Emergency Courtesy Licenses help us to bridge the gap and fill open positions sooner.
Emergency Courtesy Licenses are helpful to both medical providers and the facilities medical providers take assignments in. They allow medical providers to take assignments with less lead time going into the assignment. It helps facilities to fill open positions when there are more urgent staffing needs, which happens frequently in remote areas of Alaska. For the communities in need of medical providers, it helps to get high-quality medical providers licensed in Alaska, so they have the medical resources they need.
Emergency Courtesy Licenses are also helpful to staffing agencies like ours because we can market ECL-qualified job orders to providers who may not be licensed in Alaska yet. Again, helping to fill assignments with the best professionals for the job.
For all professions, Emergency Courtesy Licenses will be granted weeks or even months sooner than a permanent professional license.
How to Acquire an Emergency Courtesy License
Your profession will determine how you acquire an Emergency Courtesy License. Physicians and physician assistants can apply for ECLs through the Alaska State Medical Board. Nurse Practitioners and nurses will apply through the Alaska Board of Nursing.
The form fields differ slightly based on the profession you’re applying with, however, we have included a few guides on our Helpful Tools page to help you with applying. (See: Alaska Forms & Documentation > Emergency Courtesy Licenses.)
Before you get too far into the process, here are a few things you’ll want to know.
Nurse Practitioner Guidelines
If you’re an NP, you’ll need to obtain an emergency courtesy license as an RN and as an NP. To do this, you’ll fill out the application twice, but in Part II of the application, you’ll select RN on one version and APRN on the second. Please note that the fee for both applications is $200.
In addition, as an NP, you’ll need to complete Part V, “Documentation of ‘Urgent Situation.’” This is where you’ll need to include the location that you’ll be working at, the dates of your assignment, and why your assignment is COVID-related that were outlined earlier.
Physician Assistant and Physician Guidelines
Filling out the paperwork for a physician or physician assistant is slightly easier than that of a nurse practitioner, however, the fees are a bit more costly. You’ll have a non-refundable application fee of $100 and the Courtesy License Fee of $150. If you hold an active Alaska professional license and a DEA registration, then you’ll also be required to register with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), which is another $25.
One caveat for physicians and physician assistants: you will need to have a valid medical license in the state where you physically reside for your ECL to be approved.
We recommend that all providers have an up-to-date DEA registration with the State of Alaska.
How Long Does It Take to Get the ECL Application Approved?
This can vary based on many factors, but we’re finding that for physicians and physician assistants, it’s taking about a month at the time of this writing.
For nurse practitioners, they are usually granted within 3 weeks, compared to the several months a standard license will take to be approved.
As a reminder, you should still apply for a permanent medical or nursing license and you also need to have a valid DEA registration.
Where to Apply
Physicians and physician assistants – Begin your application here.
Nurse practitioners – Begin your application here.
If you’re interested in working in Alaska as an NP, PA, or physician, view our Open Jobs page. If you’re curious about whether a job qualifies for a provider to have an Emergency Courtesy License, reach out to our recruiters for additional information about the position.