Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Nurse Police

The Board of Nurses' mission comes as a surprise to many nurses. When I graduated from nursing school in 1984, I did not know what the Board did other than give me a license and want me to complete continuing education hours every year. I did not know that there were rules and regulations governing my nursing practice. We did not have Jurisprudence classes in nursing school and when I look back, I know that I was lucky. Up until I worked for the Texas Medical Board as a lawyer, I would have thought that if I had an issue with nursing, the Texas Nursing Board would be my advocate because the name itself suggests that it is a board for nurses. This is such a common misconception amongst all health care professionals, not just nurses.

The regulatory boards have a mission to protect the public. The Board of Nurses' mission statement is located on the home page of their website "Our mission is to protect and promote the welfare of the people of Texas by ensuring that each person holding a license as a nurse in the State of Texas is competent to practice safely." The Board staff has given perhaps one of the best descriptions of the Board's mission and that is that they are the Nurse Police. When dealing with any regulatory Board, it helps to know that their mission is to protect the public against the particular Board's licensees.