President’s Message – November 2009
Welcome to our new look! We are making significant improvements in how we communicate with our members, so we hope you enjoy the new format and appreciate your feedback at Voice@unacuhcp.org. As always, our goal is to make sure our members have access to the most current information impacting our professions. We are also redesigning the UNAC/UHCP website and anticipate launching it before the end of the year. In the meantime, please continue to visit our current website at www.unac-ca.org.
Reforming the BRN
At a recent California Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee meeting, I addressed some recommendations to improve the enforcement program at the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN). I supported structural changes to promote effective patient protections and due process, including increased interdepartmental collaboration, dividing healthcare and non-healthcare board enforcement, and updating data management methods. However, I remain concerned about three key issues: BRN funding, the Diversion program and maintaining due process.
I called for an immediate end to the BRN's state-mandated furloughs because the Board's funding comes from your annual license renewal fees, not the General Fund. I agreed that an increase in RN licensing fees was necessary after 18 years; however, the increase and how it will be spent must be determined first to ensure accountability.
The Diversion program is as vital a resource to the public as it is to RNs suffering from addiction because the program incorporates a monitoring function that would not otherwise exist. Diversion is an RN's last chance to continue their career in nursing, or face license suspension. I recommended an auditing process to allow time to correct inefficiencies and implement best practices.
Finally, I stressed the need for due process to guarantee that the basic civil rights of every accused nurse are protected. Each BRN case must be considered on its own merits and valid complaints should include an element of remediation. Due process and consumer protection are not mutually exclusive.
We strongly support correcting BRN enforcement and will continue to provide valuable recommendations to help improve this critical public safety system.
Kathy J. Sackman, RN