Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is a nurse attorney in Wilmette, Ill., and mainly represents nurses in varying legal matters, including disciplinary proceedings before the state board of nursing. She has published and lectured extensively on nursing practice and the law. Nancy is Nurse.com‘s legal information columnist.
A 2011 American Nurses Association survey indicated that 32 states require continuing education courses to be completed to renew a nurse licensee’s license or for re-entry into practice. Although the number of contact hours and the type of courses that are required to be completed varies, there is no question that continuing education courses are necessary for practicing nurses and nurses re-entering the profession.
Indeed, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s 2010 Lifelong Learning In Medicine And Nursing: Final Conference Report identified the values of CE and continuous learning. Those values include “improving patient-care outcomes, engaging learners in new knowledge and skill acquisition for practice-setting application, and generating professional satisfaction and identity, potentially preventing or decreasing burnout.”
Another value of CE is learning about the regulatory aspects of nursing practice when such courses are offered to a nurse licensee. I am amazed at the number of practicing nurses I come in contact within my practice who know very little about their state nurse practice act.
In Ohio, this lack of knowledge of the Ohio Nurse Practice Act should be a rare occurrence. The Board of Nursing was farsighted in requiring not only 24 hours of mandatory CE for re-licensure but also requiring that one of the courses, Becoming Familiar With The Ohio Nurse Practice Act, as a requisite course. Because the deadline for completing Ohio CE for the next licensure period is August 31, 2013, this module, if not yet completed, is a way to meet the CE requirements and learn about the Ohio Nurse Practice Act.
Knowing your nurse practice act and the rules that administer the act is essential in many ways. First and foremost, you need to know how the board of nursing functions, who sits on the board, and where it gets its power to regulate nursing practice. It is also essential in understanding your scope of practice, your obligations under the act, and for providing safe practice to your patients.
The Ohio Act is quite detailed in all of the above areas. For example, you can review the scope of practice of the Ohio LPN, RN, and all categories of advanced practice nurses (APNs). This information is necessary to the nursing team members in all practice settings and, if not adhered to, may result in the Board initiating a complaint against say, an RN, who uses an LPN staff member inconsistent with the mandates of the Act.
How a board of nursing disciplines a nurse licensee is another area that is pertinent information for a nurse to know and understand. Many nurses who seek legal advice or a legal consultation from me do so because they are concerned about being sued for professional negligence. Equally important, however, is the discipline a nurse licensee may face due to an alleged violation of the nurse practice act.
Ohio’s Act and its rules detail the discipline process and the nurse licensee’s rights. In addition, specific conduct is listed that can result in discipline. Did you know that as an Ohio nurse licensee, you can be disciplined for the failure to use universal precautions?
Ohio nurses are fortunate to be able to learn about the governing law and its regulations that control Ohio nursing practice. Many other states do not require such a course. The Ohio Board has provided you with the information you need to keep your practice in compliance with the Act as well as provide you with a way to meet the required 24 hours of CE for re-licensure.
Ohio state-required CE course: Becoming Familiar With The Ohio Nurse Practice Act
Learn more about the Ohio Board of Nursing state CE requirements