No good deed goes unpunished! On Ground Hog day during the hearing of HB349, Representative Linda Tanner, a former educator and long-time supporter of nursing gave testimony in opposition to the bill because it would repeal the requirement for school nurses to be eligible for school nurse certification. This was the third year in a row that a similar bill was proposed. The New Hampshire Nurses Association (NHNA) once again opposed the bill and our members were present during the hearing to share their opinion as to why.
Those speaking in opposition to the bill were trying to make the point that because of the nature of the role of the school nurse it is not recommended for new graduates. The role requires an ability to work independently, with many competing demands, for a vulnerable and at times large population. Unlike a nurse who enters a new graduate program to fully achieve competence post-graduation, school nurses do not have this resource. Sadly, non-nurses jumped into the conversation rekindling the Associate Degree Nurse (ADN) vs Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) education conversation. This created a firestorm on social media across the country, diverting the conversation, and resorting to name-calling. This unfortunately was not the intent of the testimony and it missed the key point.
The pandemic has certainly raised awareness of the nursing shortage in the state and the importance of getting all nurses no matter their level of education or experience into the appropriate role based on education and experience. In NH even our retired nurses have volunteered playing a very important part in trying to keep our long-term care population safe. We know first-hand the importance of including all nurses in the solution.
Nurses will not perpetuate the age-old argument about what level of education is best and instead support our colleagues and teammates to function at the top of their license and start and finish their education and training as it is comfortable for them. Civility and respect are what is needed.
This situation was characterized as a teachable moment. It’s true! ADN and BSN prepared graduate nurses take the same licensure exam. Attorneys also take the same bar exam, but would you hire an attorney with expertise in employment law to represent you in a medical malpractice case? The lesson here is that nurses should be the subject matter experts and we should be defining safe practice. Nurses know best what skillset is required and where specialized education or training is needed.
Now more than ever, we need to educate the public about what we do. A nurse is no longer the case. We are honored to be chosen as the most trusted profession for the 19th year in a row. The reason for that is our interest is the patient and not the bottom line.
Carlene Ferrier, RN is the President of the New Hampshire Nurses Association