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Nurse education up for change

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

February 12, 2009

BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) - A bill regarding nursing education will soon be up for debate in the state Senate. The bill will completely change how Georgia nurses receive their education.

The objective is to increase the number of nurses available in the state. But the Georgia Board of Nursing and some local educators say if the bill passes, education standards will drop tremendously.

A shortage of nurses in Georgia and across the nation have Georgia lawmakers pushing for a new bill meant to increase the number of nurses and protect patients.

"There's a huge shortage in Georgia and in the year 2010 they are expecting even a 30-40% increase in shortage as nurses reach an age they can retire. And not just nurses but in other heath care providers, especially emergency healthcare," says Director of the LPN program at Bainbridge College, Doris Carmichael.

With a growing population, there just aren't enough nurses to go around.

"Nurses are not only working now in hospitals and nursing homes, but there's home health, hospice, and more urgent care facilities," says Carmichael.

If passed, Senate Bill 49 will completely change how Georgia nurses may be educated. Currently Georgia educates nurses through the University and technical college systems.

The new bill is written to allow nurses to become licensed without completing any of those programs.

"My concern would be that there might be some sacrifice in quality for education," says Carmichael.

The bill would require the Board of Nursing to recognize internet institutions of higher education as an acceptable form of education. Some graduates may never experience supervised clinical experience, or even actual classroom instruction.

"By sacrificing quality at this level, you risk life for these patients. In some situations minutes can mean life or death so we really want to maintain high education quality in those types of programs," she says.

The Georgia Board of Nursing is opposed to the legislation.  Feedback