The article "Regulation of docs, nurses needs overhaul, panel says" (Jan. 1, p. 3) reported responses by professional associations representing medicine and nursing to the Pew Health Professions Commission's recommendations for healthcare work-force reform. It failed to include a response from representatives of regulatory boards, the bull's eye in the target of the Pew recommendations.
The country's 61 nursing regulatory boards have been following the development of these recommendations for well over a year. Following their unveiling last September, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing co-sponsored with the Citizen Advisory Center a two-day conference to discuss nursing regulation's role in public protection for the 21st century, including the implications of the Pew recommendations.
The specific legal purpose for regulation of health professions is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. As such, input by groups representing consumers always should be taken seriously. Nursing regulation already has addressed many areas cited in the recommendations, such as consistent licensing standards, by developing a licensing examination that has been used in all states for more than 30 years.
The council believes the current regulatory system will have a unique opportunity for self-analysis and enhancement based on changes in healthcare delivery and reimbursement accompanied by the explosion in technology. Issues of access, quality and cost will require that clear regulatory outcomes are identified. The challenge of regulatory reform is to ensure establishment of sound legal authority for professional practice accompanied by sound disciplinary structures, and to ensure that only qualified practitioners are licensed and authorized to practice.
National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Chicago