Nursing standards remain in place

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 18, 2004

JACKSON – ‘No,’ that’s what Northampton County Health Director Sue Gay said to a proposal to change the standards for nursing education programs required in securing initial licensure for registered nurses.

Gay told County Commissioners, Monday, that the proposed changes would lessen the standard of health care by deleting the public health nursing theory and clinical experience classes currently required to obtain the Baccalaureate degree that has long been the accepted national standard for educational preparation of public health nurses.

&uot;Not only would this lessen the standard for health care, it would eliminate Public Health Nursing representation from the North Carolina Board of Nursing,&uot; said Gay, who is also a registered nurse.

She explained that since the standard was implemented, nurses hired in public health that were not prepared through the baccalaureate degree program were required to take a course sponsored by the Division of Public Health, which resulted in a better-prepared public health nursing workforce.

&uot;By maintaining public health nursing theory and clinical experience, nurses would be better equipped to deal with potentially volatile situations like infectious diseases, threats of bioterrorism and epidemics of chronic diseases like HIV/AIDS, not to mention other health care issues that could potentially face the county and its residents,&uot; she said.

In response to the proposal, Gay proposed a resolution of her own, opposing the deletion of the requirement for the Baccalaureate nursing program.

&uot;I believe it is in the best interest of health care to maintain the current curriculum requirements of the Baccalaureate program,&uot; said Gay. &uot;That includes keeping both public health nursing theory as well as clinical learning experiences as educational prerequisites for obtaining initial licensure as a registered nurse. We need to maintain representation on the Board of Directors of the NC Board of Nursing so we can continue to have a voice in the public health arena.&uot;

The resolution received a consensus of support from all Commissioners.