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National Nurses Week 2022 begins Friday, May 6 and ends Thursday, May 12, 2022, which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale the founder of modern nursing. This year is the 202nd year that Nurses Week is celebrated.
The American Nurses Association’s theme for this year is Nurses Make a Difference, to honor the many ways that nurses make a difference in our lives. The ANA is celebrating nurses for the entire month of May (Nurses Month 2022).
During Nurses Week we celebrate and appreciate the work of all nurses who make a difference and change people’s lives. Nurses work 24/7 in a wide range of venues including schools of nursing, hospitals, ambulatory care centers, hospice, home care, long term care, behavioral health settings, doctor’s offices, and in our children’s schools. Nurses bring the best care and expertise where it is needed. Nurses worked throughout the pandemic, and are prepared to handle future healthcare emergencies.
On the floor of the State Senate, Senator Judy Ward recognized the week of May 6-12th as Nurses Week in Pennsylvania (VIDEO by: Senator Judy Ward)
Recent efforts were made on behalf of nursing by Pennsylvania’s legislature and Governor Wolf. In July 2021 PA Act 68 Nurse Licensure Compact was passed into law and the State Board of Nursing is drafting the regulations to implement the NLC in the near future. Additionally, they funneled $20 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds into nursing by establishing the PA Student Loan Relief for Nurses (SLRN) Program.
But the nursing shortage in Pennsylvania and nationally has reached crisis proportions and is affecting all healthcare settings. Legislators’ investment in the nursing pipeline will help to ensure an adequate supply of nurses in the future. Key factors determining the future supply of nurses are the number of nurses who are being educated by US nursing programs and the number entering the US after graduating from foreign nursing programs.
Currently, HB889 “Updating International Nursing Licensure Exam Requirement” is on the Senate calendar for 3rd consideration, and will hopefully be on the agenda for a full vote when the Senate resumes on May 23, 2022. Its final passage in the House was unanimous in October 2021 with a vote of 198-0).
HB889 will amend the Professional Nursing Law to allow the State Board of Nursing to approve graduates of international professional nursing education programs to sit for the RN licensure examination, provided such programs are equivalent to that which is required in Pennsylvania. The existing law is overly restrictive and causes an unnecessary delay for qualified nurses to be hired and provide care for patients in the Commonwealth. (In April 2022, Governor Wolf signed HB245 into law, and this bill is similar but is related to doctors who graduated from international medical schools. HB245 will now help to address the physician shortage in Pennsylvania, just as HB889 will help to address the nursing shortage.)
“Mandated nurse staffing ratios do not create more nurses” (HAP).
Nurse-to-patient ratios are not the solution to the nursing shortage crisis. Rigid nurse-to-patient ratios will intensify challenges to hospitals that are already experiencing a nurse staffing shortage. Nurse staffing is not “one-size fits all” and daily nurse staffing needs vary among large urban medical centers, community hospitals, and critical access hospitals. The financial strain this will place on hospitals will affect every aspect of healthcare.
However, proposals and legislation that support the education of nurses, valuing the work of nurses, and safe working environments will help with the current nursing shortage. Legislation is currently proposed both at the state and federal levels that supports these areas for nursing and nurses.
During Nurses Week, in addition to thanking a nurse, take time to support legislation, such as HB889 “Updating International Nursing Licensure Exam Requirement”, and those that strengthen the nursing pipeline of recruiting nurses into the profession and providing resources to help educate nurses.
(See also NATIONAL NURSES WEEK – May 6-12, 2022 – National Today)
Mary O'Connor, PhD, MSN, RN
Professor Emeritus, PennWest University, California campus
Pennsylvania Organization of Nurse Leaders (PONL), Legislative Committee