Among the issues New York and New Jersey nurse leaders and lobbyists will focus on as state legislators return to work in mid-January are “BSN in 10″ bills aimed at requiring new nurses to obtain a BSN degree within 10 years of initial licensure.
Nurses in both states are pushing for the bill, which if the legislation is passed, would require nurses graduating without BSNs to achieve the degree in a decades time.
The bill in New York is called Advancing Nursing Education in New York, according to Claire Murray, RN, executive director of the New York Organization of Nurse Executives.
New Jersey and New York are two of the first states to have introduced the BSN in 10 legislation, according to Linda Geisler, RN, MNEd, NEA-BC, president of the Organization of Nurse Executives of New Jersey, based in Princeton.
“We are supporting this bill,” she said. “If it is revised in the future, we would support it. Our main initiative is that we are supporting the Institute of Medicines Future of Nursing report, of which one of the recommendations is to have 80% of the registered nurses in the U.S. obtain their BSN by 2020.”
“Weve managed to get it out of committee before, but it has always been late in the session, and then it doesnt get action on the floor,” she said. “This will be a new session, and a session is two years, so, well have to have it re-introduced, but our sponsors plan to do that.”
New York nurses should not confuse todays Advancing Nursing Education legislation with a bill introduced years ago, according to Joan Cusack-McGuirk, RN, MA, NEA-BC, vice president and CNO, St. Lukes Cornwall Hospital, Newburgh, N.Y.
“This is not an entry into practice bill,” she said. “The nurses currently licensed and the nurses currently enrolled will be grandfathered in. This really affects the future of nursing.”
The Institute of Medicines landmark 2010 report “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advocating Health,” according to Cusack-McGuirk, “validates the need for BSN in 10 legislation. Quite frankly, the importance of this is truly the future of nursing and healthcare.”
Because research indicates patient outcomes and quality of care improve with BSN-prepared nurses, hospitals and healthcare organizations in New Jersey already are supporting the IOMs recommendation, Geisler said.
Some are hiring only BSN-prepared nurses, while others hire nursing staff who are prepared to pursue the BSN within five years, she said.
Focus on New York
NYONE will continue to support a bill introduced and passed in both houses of the legislature this year, but vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The bill, called CRNA Recognition, recognizes certified registered nurse anesthetists in the nurse practice laws, so they would have formal recognition by the education department.
“Thats something that we continue to support because those people have been administering anesthesia for decades very safely, yet they arent recognized in the education law of nursing,” Murray said.
Other bills in NJ
New Jersey nurse executives are waiting on Gov. Chris Christie to decide whether to sign or veto the New Jersey Health Benefit Exchange Act, which determines whether the exchange will be run in-state or by the federal government, Geisler said.
“We do support it, so that our constituents in the state are covered by some type of health insurance,” she said. “This is the benefit exchange, which comes out of President [Barack] Obamas Affordable Care Act, which allows each state to set up a separate exchange or rely on the federal government.”
If New Jersey sets up its own exchange, which is a mechanism for people to buy health insurance, a board of governance would be appointed to oversee it. ONENJ plans to support having a nurse appointed to the governing body to ensure nursings interests are recognized and represented, Geisler said.
ONENJ also supports the Physician Orders for Life-sustaining Treatment Act, which Christie signed into law in 2011.
“Were waiting for the regulations to be written,” Geisler said. “Basically, it allows physicians to write orders for life-sustaining treatment, and those orders will carry on in the home, transport (ambulance) and in the hospital. We advocate for the patient. Thats why we support the bill.”
ONENJ also supports the Guardianship bill, which permits surrogates to make healthcare decisions for patients who lack decision-making capacity, Geisler said.
Start with IOM report
All nurses should become familiar with the IOMs Future of Nursing report, which provides a foundation for many of the bills being introduced in nursing, according to Margaret Cusumano, RN, MSN, vice president of patient care services and CNO, Vassar Brothers Medical Center, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
“Its probably the most important document that our profession has seen in many, many years because it truly acknowledges the worth and value of nursing as a profession and how we fundamentally impact healthcare in this country,” she said.
Lisette Hilton is a freelance writer.