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A healthcare contribution solution.

How would you feel if you received a $500 tax credit for volunteer nursing service given through Parish Nursing? Could this be a way for our country to motivate nurses and encourage them to continue contributing to the health promotion of our nation? These were some of the questions that motivated me to get involved.

In one of many trips to the Oregon Legislature, Senator Decker, Chair of the Senate Revenue Committee, challenged us, "Get a representative from the Oregon Nurses Association, the State Board of Nursing, the Center for Nursing and the Oregon Federation of Nursing and when you do, come to the Senate Chambers and pull me out of session."

Three RNs from Oregon had approached our State Legislature with a proposal to obtain a tax credit of $500 for 100 hours of volunteer nursing. This would attempt to cover state licensure, malpractice insurance and professional association dues. Our goal? To entice nurses who would have retired from nursing or simply left the practice of nursing, to stay in the field as a volunteer, especially as a Parish Nurse! In two hours we had polled all the above organizations and gotten either approval or a statement of neutrality for our proposed amendment.

The average length of time a nurse stays in practice today is 7 years. The nursing shortage is to the point that within a few years 40% of nurses in the U.S. will have left the profession, or be retired.

There are many efforts to fund nursing education and open up the bottleneck into nursing school with more educators. Funding education for nurses is important, however, it just might be equally important to "keep the wisdom of those already in the profession!"

Where will the "surge" capacity come from when, not if, a pandemic strikes our country? We learned from Katrina that it takes time to verify licensure, and to teach people to work together outside of their specialty. Will our employed nurses be willing to close their specialty practices or walk away from their hospital floors to augment the Public Health Dept.? Not likely!

Parish nurses are positioned to be available for extra training, especially in special situations such as recognizing head injuries or PTSD in returning veterans, or working toward emergency preparedness. Parish nurses have a lot to offer.

As my nurse colleagues and I sought out members of the Oregon Legislature and researched the number of volunteer nurses in the state, we came up with about 544. (This included Parish Nurses, Red Cross Nurses and volunteer Public Health Nurses.) It would cost $272,000 in a tax credit, but would give a value of $2,176,000 if figured at the rate of $40 per hour for 100 hours of work.

It will take more than one approach to address the challenges we are facing in health care. I have to wonder if there might be interest in a federal tax credit like our proposed state tax credit amendment. We'd love to hear from you and suggest you make the acquaintance of your own State and Federal legislators. They love to hear from nurses whom they can trust, especially Parish Nurses!

Barbara Fritz, BSN, RN

Portland, Oregon


By Barbara Fritz RN, Parish Nurse
COPYRIGHT 2008 International Parish Nurse Resource Center
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Author:Fritz, Barbara
Publication:Parish Nurse Perspectives
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2008
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