By Dr. Rosemary Goodyear
Health care personnel in the USA require an education that assures the public that they are safe and competent providers of health care services. Each state in the nation has established rules and regulations (R&R) that guide institutions and educators in the content and process that will allow individuals, who successfully complete these programs, to become certified and/or sit for national licensure examinations. The legal authority that evokes and monitors these rules and regulations most frequently is the state board of nursing, board of education, public health authorities or a combination of these official bodies. Following successful completion of an educational program, public and/or private, each individual must attain a certificate or license to practice in that role, regardless of the work setting or title of the position fulfilled.
The R & R’s that assist programs in providing the necessary educational opportunities for interested individuals are available to the public, and can usually be accessed in an online format from the official bodies in each state. These are often published in a combination of the Nurse Practice Act, which identifies the requirements for practice in each specific state, and Articles or Standards that spell out the required administration, personnel, curriculum and steps in the process for educating the generalist nurse/registered nurse (RN) education. The academic level of education of the RN or Specialized Nurse is also included in these documents which may identify added preparation and levels of certification needed to practice in each state.
The following is a broad outline of a process to seek approval to begin a new educational program for health personnel such as (Certified Nurse Assistant – CNA; Licensed Vocational/Practical Nurse – LVN/LPN); Registered Nurse at ADN/BSN level); Certified Nurse Practitioner; Certified Nurse Midwife; Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist; or Clinical Nurse Specialist. A consistent part of each process is a time-line to be met, assistance and reviews by board staff, hearings of acceptable proposal by the board members and types of approval ratings.
General steps in seeking approval to begin a new educational program for health personnel:
- Submission of a Letter of Intent from institution (public/private) to official board regulating the health personnel to be prepared.
- Identification and history of the institution, need for a new program preparing this type of health personnel in the geographic area of the state, and fiscal support for a sustainable program.
- If not a degree granting institution, the affiliation with an institution of higher education, including the collaboration with affiliate administration and faculty.
- Connect and work with staff of official board regulating education of health personnel during the drafting of the proposal/self-study.
- Identification of qualified personnel to administer and teach in the educational program.
- Development of curriculum for preparing health personnel following requirements as set out in the regulations of the official R & R’s.
- Identification and acceptance for clinical placement of students by community health care facilities.
- Development of policies and documentation of admission, progression, completion and evaluation of educational program.
This is a brief outline for assisting institutions or agencies interested in starting a new educational health personnel program. The language of the R & R’s is often broad and enmeshed with legal terminology and perhaps not “user friendly” for people new to starting an educational program. This is where Nurse Consultant Associates can assist the developer of new health personnel programs. A useful website that can assist in the beginning search for your state board and the R & R’s is the National Council of State Board of Nursing www.ncsb.org