The deadline is approaching for New Jersey nurses who renew their RN licenses this year to complete a one-hour Organ and Tissue Donation and Recovery CE course.
The course requirement was mandated in the New Jersey Hero Act, which refers to people who donate life-saving and life-enhancing organs and tissues.
According to the act enacted in the state on July 22, 2008, nursing courses and curriculums must dispel myths associated with organ donation, provide accurate information about the donation and recovery process, and emphasize the fundamental responsibility of individuals to take appropriate action, when able to do so, to help save another persons life.
Many nurses have not received this information in college, said Barbara Turci, RN, BSN, CPTC, organ and tissue donation education manager at the NJ Sharing Network, one of two organ procurement organizations in the state. Nurses are vital to making donation a reality. They are most often the individuals who recognize its time to make the referral.
The Gift of Life Donor Program, the other New Jersey organ procurement organization, agrees with Turci that nurses are integral to organ donation referrals. Jacki Giuffrida, senior hospital services coordinator for the program, said the bedside nurse makes the call 95% of the time.
The power is in their hands, Giuffrida said. Its a nurse-driven process.
Giuffrida said continuing education is important because in many settings nurses do not deal with donor/transplant situations on a regular basis. She added that the dynamic nature of the transplant field leads to regular updates. We want to make sure nurses know those changes, Giuffrida said.
Pamela Peterson, RN, BSN, MBA, NE-BC, clinical director for critical care and hemodialysis at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center City Campus in Atlantic City, N.J., agreed theres a need to educate nurses who are unfamiliar with transplants and the regulations to report death and ensure a patient is not removed from life support until a member of an organ procurement organization can meet with the family.
Through the Hero Act education, we are seeing increases in the donor registry, Turci said.
According to a November 2012 report by the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing, 114,120 nurses are licensed in the state. RNs renewing their license this year about half must complete the course by May 31. RNs with licenses expiring next year must take the course by May 31, 2015.
The New Jersey Board of Nursing may waive the CE requirement if nurses demonstrate attaining equivalent information through completion of a similar post-secondary education course. The board will monitor compliance, board spokesman Jeff Lamm said.
Nurses can fulfill this requirement by taking the online course, NJ Required Organ and Tissue Donation Choice: What Every Nurse Needs to Know, at Nurse.com/CE/Organ-Donation.
Debra Anscombe Wood, RN, is a freelance writer.
For information on organ donation, contact the NJ Sharing Network at
800-742-7365 or NJSharingNetwork.org or the Gift of Life Donor Program at
800-366-6771 or Donors1.org.