The following are letters to NHJournal regarding our coverage of Rep. Linda Tanner’s (D-Georges Mills) comments during a House committee hearing regarding community college nurses:

“I don’t know about you, but when I’m in the hospital and a nurse walks in the room I don’t want just some ‘Jeannie Smith off the sidewalk’ that’s maybe taken two years at a community college with basic education and I have something that’s very technical,” Tanner said.

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To the Editor,

[Rep. Linda Tanner’s] recent comments regarding 2-year vs. 4-year Registered nurses in the NH Journal is one of the most ignorant and misinformed statements that I’ve heard from any NH lawmaker.  Your elitist statement is offensive and an insult to the most trusted profession.

My hope is that you are held accountable for the misinformation you’ve spread.  You are my Representative, I voted for you, and you are not honestly representing me and the many Registered Nurses (of all levels of academic preparation) in our District.

Are you aware that graduates from 2-year and 4-year programs take and successfully pass the exact same National examination?  Additionally, pass rates for ALL nursing programs in New Hampshire (both 2-year and 4-year) have like first attempt pass rates, which is in excess of 98%.

Are you aware that 2-year and 4-year program learners have and must complete the same clinical experiences at health centers, large and small hospitals, etc.?

Are you aware that there is ZERO evidence that a 4-year graduate’s clinical skills and acumen are superior to a 2-year program graduate’s?

With the current pandemic, Registered Nurses from both 2-year and 4-year programs are on the same front lines, conducting testing, caring for the sick at all levels of clinical acuity, giving vaccinations, etc.  COVID does not differentiate, as you have.

Your faculty membership at Colby-Sawyer College gives you bias (or in this case, ignorance) and reflects negatively on the institution and their nursing program.

At a minimum, I believe the least you can do is publish a sincere apology to the Registered Nurses of New Hampshire, all nursing education programs (Licensed Nursing Assistant,  2- and 4-year programs, and graduate nursing programs), the Board of Nursing, the legislative bodies of New Hampshire, and Colby-Sawyer College.

If you want to truly be a leader, demonstrate accountability,  and salvage your political future, I will ask [on behalf of all Registered Nurses in New Hampshire] for your immediate resignation from the NH House of Representatives-you have not demonstrated sufficient judgement and restraint for membership.

With great disappointment,


To the Editor,

I was sent your recent article titled: “NH Dem Disses ‘Nurses With Two Years at Community College’ as Unfit” by one of the faculty I supervise, and I must say that I was surprised at the level of misinformation from the NH lawmaker.

The level of education should not determine the competency of a Registered Nurse, it is the experiential component that determines their ability to care for our patients. This competence is developed through hands-on orientation and clinical care once hired in their position as a licensed Registered Nurse (RN).

The academic curriculum is mirrored for a diploma nurse, an associate degree nurse or a baccalaureate degree nurse. They must all meet the same competencies for eligibility to sit for their state licensure exam. So, for the NH Dem House member to state “Nurses with associate degrees from community colleges aren’t qualified to serve as school nurses” and that she “wouldn’t want one taking care of her, either” is absurd, biased, and absolutely lacking knowledge and grounding about the rigors of nursing education.

Further education is required for nurse practitioners, nurse educators and nurse leaders, all of which necessitate a masters degree (MSN) or higher (DNP, PhD) for practice. I know hundreds of nurses to date who are graduates of a diploma program or associate degree program, who work in trauma units, intensive care units and other extremely high-level units and are competent to provide the highest level of quality care.

It would sound more reasonable (and educated) if the NH “lawmaker” would have said that a nurse who has graduated with an Associate in Science Degree (ASN) and hired into a school system, requires additional education about the school system…..

I presently work at a college where students graduate with an ASN and please know- all community hospitals are contacting us to hire our graduates, some even before they sit for their board exam (GN).

This level of absurd thinking and poor understanding of the nursing profession by a “lawmaker” displays ignorance. NH constituents should reconsider their vote……

Elizabeth Levine, PhD, RN

To the Editor,

It is unfortunate by now that many nurses have read your article in the NH Journal.  The article has been posted to The Patch and recirculated wildly through social media.

I was at the hearing of HB 349 and would like to share perspectives from that hearing and words of apology from Rep. Tanner.  While I agree this may have been an unfortunate choice of words this very brief sound bite taken out of a long-impassioned testimony in support of school nurses.  Representative Tanner has long been an advocate of nursing in general and school nursing as a former educator.  The purpose of the testimony was specific to the education and experience specific to school nurses. There was no “diss” or intent to disparage ADN nurses or the Community College System.  In context, the representative was saying she would not want a school nurse without the education and experience necessary to take care of our children in schools.  She was making the point that ADN programs as compared to BSN programs do not have the robust pediatric or public health education necessary to be successful in the role of the school nurse nor do new grads from any program have the necessary experience.  This testimony is in response to an attempt to remove the requirement for the BSN and 3 years of experience to be hired with the expectation they be certified by the Board of Education within 6 years.  The unfortunate sound bite that has apparently gone viral was the “Jeannie Smith” comment as a nurse off the street taking care of her with the intent to say without the experience or education needed.

As an experienced educator who taught nursing for 8 years at the ADN level and 20 years at the BSN level I believe her comments were accurate in terms of the education and experience to be in the school nurse role.  It is important to note this hearing was relative to School Nursing and not the merits of ADN vs. BSN.  As a nursing community, I would hope that we support all levels of education and the value of advancing our profession.  These stories picked up and spread on social media continue to divide us.  I encourage everyone to listen to the full transcript of the testimony.  It is a lesson in how words taken out of context can cause a riff in the profession.

In her own words, Rep. Tanner states:

“  While debating the issue of school nursing as a specialty, I made a statement that has been taken out of context. I would like to apologize for a statement I made yesterday in the hearing. I do support and value Associate Degree Nurses who are capable, respected and perform an important job in healthcare. I was replying to one of my fellow representatives about a lack of understanding and respect for professional training and standards. School Nursing is a very unique job in the nursing profession.

On groundhog day we were, once again, dealing with a bill that has been introduced three terms in a row to reduce or eliminate the certification and professional standards for school nursing. This bill also reduced the qualifications for the position of school nurse coordinator at the Department of Education which the Department of Education has not filled despite the obvious need for assistance during the Covid crisis. School nurses have a vital and highly complex job to meet the needs of our students, staff, and communities. I support the need for these nurses and recognize the complexity of their jobs that require advanced, professional training and certification.  I did not intend to disparage nurses, I was just trying to make the reasonable argument that a newly graduated 2 year or 4 year nursing graduate should not become a school nurse without some special training. My choice of analogy was poorly worded and does not reflect my experience or respect for all nurses.”

Thank you for considering this explanation and apology and I hope you will share this with nurses who have become distraught based on this article.

Pamela P DiNapoli, PhD, RN, CNL