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EMORY: Army nurse rejected by Georgia licensing board | News

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EMORY: Army nurse rejected by Georgia licensing board

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- At 35 years old, Sgt. Beth Linderborg was ready for the next step in her career.

"When I was 19, I went into the Army and I went through the Army Practical Nurse Course," Linderborg said. "I was drawn to Emory, did some research, did some research on Georgia, and came here in July."

She accepted a job at Emory, packed her belongings, and moved to Atlanta from California, getting her five-year-old daughter settled into her new school before she was to begin her job September 12.

She applied for her Georgia nursing license before she left California.  She assumed it wouldn't be an issue because she was already licensed in three states. But the letter from the Georgia Board for Licensed Practical Nurses told her that her application had been rejected.

Linderborg said she was told that "I was not eligible, that the program that I went through was not recognized regionally by the state of Georgia."

Linderborg's training came from the U.S. Army-AMEDD at Fort Sam Houston in Texas -- one of the most respected nursing programs in the country. But the state of Georgia doesn't recognize it.

"I think it's ridiculous," says State Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur). Linderborg contacted Senator Carter, who learned a legislative glitch made Army trained nurses ineligible for licenses in Georgia.

"I think we have this situation right now,  a veteran who served our country, who's done everything she was asked of, and we have one of the greatest hospitals in the world who wants to hire her and the state of Georgia says you're not good enough to get licensed," Carter told 11Alive News.

"We can't waive the law," said Barbara Mitchell, chairman of the LPN licensing board. 

Mitchell says a flawed state law, passed in the legislature two years ago, prevents Sgt. Linderborg from getting a nursing license in Georgia.

"And this was an unintended consequence, which I plan to fix the minute we go back into session again," said state Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), who wrote the 2009 law.  The Georgia General Assembly will reconvene in January.

Cooper said the 2009 law was needed to protect the state from nursing applicants coming out of disreputable online nursing programs. To do that, the new law had to be very specific about what types of nursing programs Georgia could accept.

"And at the time, nobody brought up the Army," Cooper said.  "So it was unintentional. We have great respect for Army and Navy and people who get their education there."

Six weeks into her ordeal, Sgt. Linderborg is growing desperate, both emotionally and financially.

Asked if she can financially make it until January, Linderborg says, "No, not here in Georgia. Not at this rate. No."

Lindenborg is proud of her service, but for now, all of that training is keeping her from earning a living in Georgia.

"I have great empathy for the young lady and I wish there was something we could do," said Rep. Cooper, who is a registered nurse. "There's nothing we can do. We're moving as fast as we can. That doesn't help her situation but we'll try to change it for the future."