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State Boards of Nursing: Can They Protect the Public from Unsafe Nurses? An Audio Interview with Dr. Maryann Alexander, RN

March 13, 2009

alexander0491 (Diana Mason Interviews Maryann Alexander)

The March 2009 issue of AJN includes a study by Dr. Elizabeth Zhong and her colleagues at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). This study of nurses who were put on probation for professional misconduct by six state boards of nursing found that nurses with a history of a criminal conviction were more than four times more likely to recidivate than nurses without such a history. The obvious conclusion: state boards need to do background checks on nurses applying for licensure or license renewal.
              In the same issue of the journal, my editorial (subscription only, at this point) discusses a series of reports published in the Los Angeles Times and the nonprofit ProPublica Web site by investigative journalists Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber, who found that the California state board for registered and vocational nurses took as long as 10 years to act on the licenses of nurses who had been convicted of crimes, including attempted murder and sexual assault of patients.  Their reporting resulted in the California board being approved for eight new positions.
             
I was curious about whether state boards of nursing are still charged with a mission of protecting the public from unsafe nurses and, if so, whether they have sufficient resources to do so. So I asked Dr. Maryann Alexander, RN, Chief Officer of Nursing Regulation for the NCSBN, about these issues. Listen to our conversation on this audio file (it’s about 10 minutes long), and feel free to let us know your own thoughts or experiences on the topic. alexander0491

 –Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, Editor-in-Chief, AJN

 
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