NEW YORK NURSE: March 2010
by Erin Silk
Josephine Bolus, board member at the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), lobbied to change the U.S. Census and won.
It all began at HHC, where Bolus was part of a workgroup to initiate a new system to streamline credentialing throughout the hospital’s numerous facilities. Like many large hospitals, keeping track of multi-credentialing at HHC was tedious and inefficient. In an effort to decrease the redundancy of completing several forms for every application at each facility, HHC completed an overhaul of its Credentialing Verification Services and Data Systems in January of 2009. The new centralized system allows providers to apply for credentials at multiple facilities with one application.
Her work on the new system prompted Bolus to ask how nurses were being counted on a national scale.
Every 10 years, the U.S. Census is conducted to accurately count the American population. The information obtained is used to determine funding for government programs and districts for the U.S. House of Representatives. The Census is always one year behind with data collection.
This means that data is being collected for 2010, but results will not be released until 2011.
For the past five years, categories for the Census have been based on the American Community Survey (ACS), a yearly survey distributed in the fall that shows data for industry and occupation. In previous ACS surveys, nursing was classified in only one category, “registered nurse,” and did not allow for multiple work classifications of the profession.
Bolus felt strongly that by leaving out the expanded work categories, nursing was being misrepresented and therefore was not a true reflection of the population. “It did not represent what nurse practitioners, versus registered nurses, were really allowed to do,” she explained.
Bolus educated the Census Bureau that nursing includes many different skill levels and made the case that they should be counted as such. As a result, this year’s American Community Survey will split the registered nurse work code into four separate work categories: registered nurses, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners.
Depending on the response to these new categories, the Census Review Board will determine whether or not to show the categories on other data products. The ACS is sent to 3 million people in the U.S. Watch to see if it reaches your mailbox this fall and count yourself as a registered nurse.