‘It’s unfair and I’ve tried everything’ | Central Texas CNA details months-long issues trying to renew licenses with no success

Problems began after the state switched the license renewal process from paper applications to a website called TULIP in summer 2023.

BASTROP COUNTY, Texas — Certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, in Central Texas are having trouble renewing their licenses – and some are worried it will affect their jobs.

Bastrop County resident Sarah Wilson said she’s always known that she’s wanted to help people. 

“I used to take care of my mom. She passed away in 2011, so I was about, like, 10 years old. That’s the main reason I got into healthcare,” Wilson said. 

So while taking regular high school classes, Wilson also went to trade school to take a CNA course. 

“The school paid for it. It was all taken care of, and I had to take care of the state exam,” Wilson said. 

After six months of hard work, Wilson got her CNA license in 2019, enabling her to begin caring for patients for their daily needs. 

“Get them up, get them dressed, do their daily routine. I really love it, and I have a very strong passion for helping those in need,” Wilson said.

However, she said she didn’t think she’d ever lose that license.

Every two years, CNAs must renew their certification. 

“Since July of last year, the state of Texas – the health department – decided to say, ‘OK, y’all are going to use TULIP now.’ It’s a new system,” Wilson said. 

Texas Health and Human Services launched the Texas Unified Licensure Information Portal, or TULIP, replacing which replaced standard paper applications.

“So, I thought, ‘Piece of cake.’ Create an account, get online, renew it,” Wilson said. “No. It’s been a very difficult six months.”

Wilson said the website doesn’t work. 

After an applicant enters their information, the site says they’re supposed to get a confirmation code within an hour to create their TULIP account. 

“I waited – nothing, I waited ’til the next day, so that’s like 24 hours. Nothing. Waiting another day, still nothing,” Wilson said. 

Wilson said she’s tried creating an account over 50 times in the last six months.

“I tried calling multiple times. No one wants to answer the phone. I waited two hours or more,” Wilson said. 

Wilson said she has emailed TULIP’s support team with no answer, and she hasn’t had much luck getting help in person either and has been turned away. 

“I understand there’s so many other people who are struggling and trying to contact them, but it’s kind of a bit ridiculous in my opinion,” Wilson said.

From the time a CNA license expires, Wilson said they have six months to renew it. Hers expired 15 days ago. 

“It’s unfair, and I’ve tried everything. But what else can I do?” Wilson said.

Wilson said her coworkers have been having the same problem and people on social media have too. She said people could lose their jobs. 

“This is not OK. I mean, this shouldn’t have happened, but something needed to be done,” Wilson said. “I feel like they should extend it another six months, or before, they should’ve made sure it was working properly before.”

Wilson said in order to get her CNA license, she will have to take another 6-month course. She said her high school paid for the classes before.

“It’s going to be $800 to $1,000,” she said. 

KVUE reached out to Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC). The department responded with a statement, saying that it has a TULIP Help Desk to assist people with technical difficulties. HHSC said that desk can assist with various issues, including password resets, licensing renewals and the status of licensing applications.

Anyone looking for assistance can call 512-438-2584 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Here is HHSC’s full statement: 

“HHSC has launched a TULIP Help Desk to assist individuals having technical difficulties. The help desk can assist with various issues including password resets, licensing renewals and the status of licensing applications. Individuals who need assistance can call 512-438-2584 between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

In response to technical issues with TULIP – and to ensure individuals who require a licensing or certification renewal are not affected – a license renewal is not required until July 31, 2024, for all certified nurse aides. All professional licenses and certifications active on June 16, 2023, will be considered active until July 31, 2024, and employers are expected to honor this extension.”

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