Washington is home to McChord, AFB (Tacoma) and Fairchild AFB (Spokane); in addition, there are three main Air National Guard outposts located in Everett, Spokane and Tacoma. The Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (commission), has a robust history of supporting military health professionals (and eligible beneficiaries), seeking accredited nursing educational opportunities, and of course nursing-centric credentials issued by the department. The aforementioned includes those in-transition to Washington, already assigned, or have transitioned out of the military. Based on a comprehensive analysis by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), the commission is now accepting education from the United States Air Force (USAF) for licensed practical nurse (LPN) licensure, if the individual has achieved an Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) of skill level five or higher.
To qualify, an Airman must apply for LPN licensure with the commission, complete mandatory background checks, submit legible copies of their DD214 member 4 or Service 2 copy or National Guard equivalency, NGB-22 (Characterization of Service/Military Discharge document), a copy of their Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) or DD2586, and an official copy of their Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) transcripts. In addition, if an Airman is applying for LPN licensure by endorsement from another state, they must send verification of licensure by examination through Nursys or a non-Nursys verification form.
As a result of legislation passed initially in 2011, and again in 2017, Health Systems Quality Assurance/Office of Health Professions (HSQA/OHP), hired a recently retired (26 years-US Army), military-trained licensed practical nurse (LPN), as a health services consultant / military liaison. Upon learning of the hire, the commission’s first order of business was to align sustainable, strategic, and achievable objectives and outcomes aimed at credentialing opportunities and more streamlined application processes for military and military-affiliated nursing applicants. The Department of Health was one of the first license issuing authorities in the nation to establish a direct pathway for the electronic delivery of the Joint Service Transcript (JST), which benefited every service component (except USAF), and its members seeking health care credentials in a more streamlined, expedited manner. The USAF has its own regionally accredited, institution of higher learning (IHL), the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF), and official transcripts can only be delivered via United States Postal Service (USPS), with an out-of-pocket expense option for expedited delivery. This meant Airmen, in contrast to their military counterparts, were delayed by as much as 60 days when applying for any number of health credentials currently issued. It further meant by default, Airmen were automatically disqualified from receiving expedited application processing. That is up until just recently (October 2019).
Although CCAF officials have communicated they are still approximately three to five years out from being able to deliver transcripts electronically to all authorized recipients. However, due to a very recent set of remarkable circumstances, official transcripts have already started being delivered via a secure portal directly to the commission’s customer service/credentialing inbox at email@example.com. They have also started delivering transcripts directly to other credentialing services inboxes, where military education, training and experience have been deemed substantially equivalent to the state’s minimal credentialing requirements.
Citing the CCAF’s Director of Credentialing Programs, Jason Smith, “we’re excited to be able to deliver this first of its kind, electronic transcript delivery service, to a licensing issuing authority whose dedicated to assisting our outstanding Airmen, seeking and attaining civilian-equivalent credentials– it’s long overdue, and certainly about time!” Jason went on to mention the constant feedback he and his colleagues at the CCAF have constantly been receiving from Airmen stationed in the Pacific Northwest!
Citing our very own military liaison, Tommy Simpson III, “It takes a village- none of this would be possible without the willingness of the commission to embrace, and give this first-of-its-kind in the nation, every opportunity to be successful! I am excited about the possibilities on behalf of our deserving Airmen!”