Natinal Licensure Debate

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Pro national licensure debate

by Zhaojun Huang


Suppose there is a Labor/Delivery nurse with many years of experience; a national healthcare organization employs him or her to be a teletriage nurse, a role which he or she enjoys and contributes more to the public. He or she can be located in Calofornia, giving advice to a patient in North Carolina. Software programs are used to guide patient through a series of questions. Depending on this nurse¡¯s judgment of the severity of the patient¡¯s problem, he or she gives patient advice to rest at home, go to see a health practitioner without delay or give patient the name and phone number of the nearest community hospitals.

The above-mentioned scenario is a typical case of telenursing in action. According to Greenberg, telenursing can increase access to care for those in remote or underserved areas, improve the accuracy of assessments, and increase the availability of patient education. Very often it can help the consumer reduce the healthcare costs involved. (Greenberg 2000)

The advancement in telecommunication induced telehealth, technology explosion and consumer-focused healthcare are some of the driving forces for the multistate nursing licensure a rapid emergence in the nursing profession. It is clear that licensure has been a costly and time-consuming barrier for telehealth. National Council for State Boards of Nursing has proposed a new model for nursing licensure. This new model is called multistate licensure or mutual recognition. An RN or LPN can practice nursing in any other compact state by applying for a license from the board in the newly adopted state. In order to achieve mutual recognition, each state must enact legislation authorizing the Nurse Licensure Compact. States entering the compact must also adopt administrative rules and regulations for implementation of the compact. Currently there are 20 states that signed the nursing licensure compact, which was developed as model law in 1998. A centralized data base called NURSYS provides readily available information about licensure status and the disciplinary action taken against a nurse to states board of nursing.

There are many concerns expressed regarding this model. Standards within a state, consumer protection, the authority of state boards of nursing are among the few that cause debate on the issues related to multistate practice by healthcare professional (Ginny 2006). In this paper, a positive view of this model is stated and the impact of multi-state licensure in the context of mutual recognition model is examined to prove national nursing licensure to be an unavoidable trend in the future nursing world.

The mobility of the nurses will be increased

This proves to be one of the benefits of this model. Nurses who desire to work in different states will take less time to get a license in the compact state. Nurses who travel to different places to work bring with them skills and valuable experiences. Standards of nursing practice and regulations vary from state to state. These group of nurses will help bring awareness of the nursing standards to the local nurses.

The standard of each state will be re-examined

People who oppose this model states that the standard of each individual states will be compromised. North Dakota, the only state requiring a BSN for RN licensure, is frequently quoted as an example. With mutual recognition, this standard would be undermined, thus a nurse with a lower qualification can endorse into the state of North Dakota and practice in the state. Another issue raised is in the area of continuing competency, since some states place emphasis on education and others on hours of practice. While these two concerns may be valid, they only show that the standard of each state should be re-examined. Since both concerns are related to nurse¡¯s competency to practice in each individual state, perhaps the...
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