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N.Y. weighs plan requiring more schooling for nurses.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- New York is considering a proposal to require new registered nurses to earn a bachelor's degree in order to retain their certification, a measure critics say would further reduce ranks in a profession already facing a shortage.

Under the state Board of Nursing proposal, RNs with an associate's degree would have to earn a bachelor's degree within 10 years. Otherwise their RN certifications would be downgraded to licensed practical nurse, or LPNs, who generally work under RN supervision and earn less.

The proposal, which would require state Board of Regents approval, would affect only future graduates, not nurses already working.

The Regents have, no time frame for discussing the proposal, said state Education Department spokesman Tom Dunn. "It's some, thing (the nursing board) feels should be discussed."

The state Board of Nursing has argued that the changing health-care field requires nurses to have more specialized knowledge. It has pointed to a 2003 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicating hospitals with more nurses with bachelor's degrees had bettor post-surgical patient survival rates.

Graduates of both programs take the same basic clinical courses and take the same RN licensing exam, though four-year bachelor's-degree programs offer more research and management courses and liberal arts requirements than community-college associate's degree programs.

"The concern is we're in the middle of a critical nursing shortage as it is," said Laurel Sanger, who chairs Monroe Community College's nursing department. "Don't get me wrong--we all support continuing education for nurses. Our concern is about the implementation: Would it discourage people from entering nursing in the first place?"

A 2003 study showed New York is already thousands of nurses short of the number needed to take care of state residents. Meanwhile, it showed that nearly a quarter of working nurses were expected to leave their jobs within five years.

Sanger said critics have found problems with the study on nursing education and surgical outcomes.

The only state to require a bachelor's degree to practice as an RN was North Dakota, which overturned the requirement last year, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.
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Title Annotation:New York
Publication:Community College Week
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 26, 2004
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