AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Texas Board of Nursing said it’s ramping up its staff to process more applications as nurses face delays when trying to apply for their initial license, renewals and transfers.

“Whenever you call, it’s unreachable. Nobody picks up or anything,” nursing student Lhakpa Dolma Lama explained. She’s been applying for her license to take her first NCLEX exam with TBON since June.

“And I’ve emailed them like probably more than 10 times,” she said.

TBON Director of Operations Mark Majek said the board has received a spike in applications and a major increase in calls. He said the staff of eight working to answer those calls usually handles about 4,000 a month, but since May, those calls have nearly doubled.

“So that in itself has been a challenge for us,” Majek said.

He explained the board is usually able to hire extra staff during times of peak applications, like in May around graduation time. But this year, because the governor ordered state agencies to slash their budgets by 5%, the funding for the extra staff was cut.

“And beside that is the emails to the agency have tripled. So all that volume is what’s bottle necking the ability to get through the phones,” Majek said.

He explained the board is mainly focused on processing applications, rather than answering more calls.

Nurse Allen Harris in Louisiana has been trying to get his license transferred to Texas from Louisiana since May.

“I am understanding to the fact of we have COVID going on, and people are backed up a lot, I totally get that, but it’s, you know, after multiple emails and calling a number, and we’re in September now, I’ve been at this process for a while,” Harris said.

The board did extend the queue for those who call in and get placed on hold from about 20 to 40 people, but it quickly fills up at the beginning of the day.

“The queue constantly stays that way, pretty much the whole day. And at the end, if you can’t get through, then it will give you a busy signal or will not let you in,” Majek said.

He added the best way to contact the board is with a single, detailed email. Majek said the board is working to add more staff to process the large amount of applications now.

“We’re going to put some more staff on these, the processing part now, we’re going to be hiring a few more staff, even though we still have the cuts, we’re going to go ahead and still hire them now and get them trained to get this going faster,” Majek said.