NEW YORK NURSE: June 2011
by Erin Silk
Members of the Coalition to Advance Nursing Education (CANE), which includes the New York Organization of Nurse Executives (NYONE) and NYSNA, lobbied the Capitol on May 3 to ask lawmakers to support the Advancement of Nursing Education bill (A1977/S1223) currently before both houses.
The bill, which saw movement last year in both the Assembly and the Senate, would require registered nurses to obtain their baccalaureate in nursing within ten years of initial licensure. Currently licensed nurses and students enrolled in nursing programs at the time the bill became law would not be required to get a BSN in order to obtain or maintain their license. The bill is being sponsored by Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Queens) and Assembly Member Joseph Morelle (D-Monroe).
NYONE Executive Director Claire Murray was among the group who laid out the facts for lawmakers. “Our ultimate goal is improved patient outcomes. If we are to meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation by 2020, we must move forward in mandating a bachelor’s degree as the standard for new nurses. This bill does this in a more moderate way. Rather than requiring the degree at the entry level of practice, it allows that level be achieved within ten years of initial licensure,” said Murray.
Murray stated that 98 percent of NYONE members are in support of the bill. Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, a strong nursing supporter, concurred that NYONE members have a vested interest because as nurse executives, they will have specific expectations of future hires — that if new RNs hired into their facilities don’t already have a bachelor’s degree, they will be expected to be working toward one.
In the past, many community colleges and schools of nursing have been opposed to requiring nurses to obtain their bachelor’s degrees for fear that their associate degree programs would become obsolete. However, more recently, many schools of nursing are partnering with other institutions to provide the option in a variety of innovative ways. As Murray explains, “It’s being viewed as a continuation, as opposed to a disenfranchisement, of their program. Beginning nursing education at the AD program level would assure that continuation.”
Although strides were made moving the Educational Advancement bill last year, with the start of a new two-year legislative cycle in 2011, it had to be re-introduced. Currently the bill is awaiting consideration in the Higher Education Committees of both houses.