On March 2, 2016, I was able to attend a public meeting for the District of Columbia’s Board of Nursing. The meeting started off by have a testimony from two representatives from the DC Nursing Association (DCNA). A major concern the DCNA wanted to bring to the board was the liability of nurses when they are called to be “sitters” in other medical positions then the one they work in. For example, one of the representatives is a labor and delivery nurse and she feels her skills are inadequate to be watching a patient in the cardiac ward. Often sitters know little about the patient’s medical history and fear that if something goes wrong they will be responsible even though that is not their assigned ward. If the nurses refuse to be a sitter because they feel it is in the best interest of the patient, they are sent home. While a valid solution was not made, the Board of Nursing did assure the DCNA that as long as the nurses are not intentionally causing harm to the patients, they should not worry about their license being withdrawn.
The next issue the board reviewed was about the dialysis technician regulation. Currently under the supervision of a Licensed Nurse, a dialysis technician can provide a certain number of services to a patient. Until recently two sets of nurses were qualified to give this supervision to the technician and these nurses were a Registered Nurses (RN) and a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). However, the Board had decided that an LPN’s qualifications were insufficient to provide the supervision to the dialysis technicians.
The final issue the board discussed was the revision of the Registered Nurses Regulations. In this section, they went over a plethora of different issues pertaining to nurses and future nurses alike. One topic discussed was the RN license renewal. It was suggested that nurses have their licenses renewed every four years on a specific month. Regardless of when the original license was obtained, when that month comes around all nurses’ licenses must be renewed. This caused some disagreement among the board members because there are fees associated with renewing a license. The opposition to this new suggestion argued that it doesn’t make sense for a nurse who has only had her license for a few months to have to renew it when the renewal period comes around. No definite conclusions were made to this regulation; instead they said they would have to further debate on it. Another regulation issue conversed was the potential requirements to have all nursing students read and understand the nursing license before they can get their license to practice. This will allow them to have a full understanding of their duties and limitations as nurses.
I am glad that I was able to attend this Board meeting because it gave me a great deal of insight into how policy works. All it takes is one person to disagree on regulation or suggestions and the whole agenda can be pushed back. By attending the meeting today, I learned a lot more on the type of decisions that the Board of Nursing makes as well as what type of power they hold in the nursing community and the health community as a whole.