Regulation of Professions and Occupations: Nursing Schools

Issue Identification

Nursing Schools and Regulation Concerns

The process of managing staff-related issues while opening and closing nursing schools, as well as handling problems associated with student debt, providing relevant information to students, and more, are admittedly complex since they require a perfect understanding of how a nursing school is run, the resources that are at its disposal, and how its hierarchy works. Therefore, current standards that require essential decisions to be made not by nursing school authorities but by the Board of Nursing (BON) can be regarded as questionable at best. In particular, information management problems mean that it is impossible to provide the BON with every crucial detail that defines the solution to a particular nursing school-related problem; thus, managing internal school issues, especially those associated with human resource management (HRM), is fraught with numerous complications. This scenario results in choices that will ultimately exert detrimental effects for nursing schools such as a possible rise in turnover rates among staff members and a significant drop in motivation rates and performance levels among students (Spector, Hooper, Silvestre, & Qian, 2018). Therefore, a shift in power and rearranging roles and responsibilities regarding the management of internal nursing school processes, along with an improvement in information management strategies within the BON and nursing institutions, is required in addressing the problem. The specified step will also demand further reconsideration of tools to ensure the quality of management within the BON and nursing schools in order to create a set of uniform standards that will simultaneously provide the parties involved with adequate flexibility for effective decision-making. As a result, issues related to the regulation of occupations within nursing schools, as well as strategies for addressing student-related issues, will be enhanced significantly, allowing for an improved communication process and the development of trust in the relationships between the parties involved.

Position Statement

Reconsidering Communication Standards

The current disparities between the BON and nursing schools, especially the process of handling issues related to professions and occupations, show a disturbing tendency. Because of the increasingly high degree of the BON’s authority, the organization has been provided with an opportunity to regulate professions and occupations in nursing education institutions, as well as manage student-related issues such as debt. However, without a good understanding of the school environment, stakeholders’ background, and the history of the problems that the BON is striving to address, the BON will likely produce solutions that will be generic at best and harmful at worst.

The Nurse Practice Act (NPA), updated in 2015, was supposed to introduce massive improvements into the realm of nursing in Florida, yet the effects were far less than anticipated (Hayden, Smiley, & Gross, 2014). The NPA provided detailed information about essential definitions and the scope of nursing practice in Florida, as well as standards for licensing nursing school graduates, yet it did not outline a means for managing internal nursing school processes, thus failing to address some of the factors related to the nursing problem in Florida (“The Florida Nurse Practice Act and the scope of nursing,” n.d.). Consequently, the issue of managing the problem of nursing school administration remains unresolved despite an increase in the rigidity of Florida licensing standards and the quality requirements for nurses.

The Act also imposes stringent standards related to the creation of nursing programs. While the specifications of the regulation prevent the creation of programs that do not stand the test of quality and will eventually prove fruitless, they also cast obstacles in the way of designing innovative approaches: “The program shall be deemed an approved program from the date that the program ceased to be accredited until the date that the board approves or denies the program application” (“The 2017 Florida statutes,” 2017). Therefore, it is necessary to reconsider the current concept of building educational programs in order to spur the creation of opportunities for students and nurse educators to develop knowledge and skills that will help them engage in lifelong learning and to be ready to enter multicultural communities offering diverse patients and their culture-specific needs.

Background Information

The Florida Nursing Environment

At present, the rigidity of Florida nursing regulations combined with the lack of opportunities for proper nursing education has led to a significant drop in qualified nursing staff (D’Aoust, Rossiter, & Clochesy, 2016). A recent report indicates that the need for immediate measures to address the situation is becoming increasingly urgent (Florida Center for Nursing, 2016). Indeed, the drop in qualified staff for nursing schools means that students are unable to receive the knowledge they require to build a viable nursing philosophy, develop a patient-centered approach based on the idea of multiculturalism, and focus on lifelong learning as a foundation for delivering nursing services of the finest quality.

Contributing to the seriousness of the problems besetting nursing education, the Florida healthcare environment has been affected significantly by a shortage of nurses (D’Aoust, et al., 2016). According to recent reports, an array of Florida nursing facilities is facing a drastic lack of competent staff members; in specific terms, “staff nurses were difficult to fill in skilled nursing, home health, and hospice” (Florida Center for Nursing, 2016, p. 3).

This situation is aggravated by the fact that the BON as a superior body dismisses nursing education staff without providing an opportunity to invest in their professional development (Travis, 2015). On the one hand, setting minimum requirements in terms of competence and preventing those who do not meet these standards from teaching in nursing schools is a sensible step to take. On the other hand, given the absence of any substitutions, it might be more constructive to introduce a program aimed at helping nursing educators train and acquire required skills and knowledge so that they can teach students essential information about nursing. Therefore, the present-day nursing environment in Florida could benefit significantly from reconsidering the current regulations regarding nursing and the role that the BON plays in managing the educational processes associated with nursing. The lack of programs aimed at improving the skills and knowledge of nurses as well as students who are learning nursing can also be deemed one of the primary characteristics of the Florida nursing setting.

Considering Available Evidence

What Both Sides Have to Say

It would be wrong to claim that the current regulations investing the BON with a significant amount of authority and agency to manage nursing-school-related issues are entirely pointless. Quite the contrary, a solid rationale lies behind assigning the BON the specified responsibilities, allotting such a significant role to play in the setting of nursing educational institutions, in that healthcare professionals have a responsibility to use their expertise to protect the public: “The general public may not have sufficient information and experience to identify an unqualified health care provider, and is vulnerable to unsafe and incompetent practitioners” (National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 2011). By considering the details of the professional records of candidates and especially checking the status of their license, the BON contributes massively to determining the choices that are likely to have a negative effect on a nursing school’s ability to provide its students with crucial knowledge and skills.

However, giving the BON complete autonomy in handling HR-related issues as well as managing issues related to student loans and providing relevant information to students would be a mistake since this would imply that the BON must be aware of the most detailed information about students, their financial issues, nursing schools, etc. Since at present the BON does not have the capability for such awareness, allocating final judgment under its jurisdiction could lead to a possibility of overlooking crucial details and rendering incorrect judgments that negatively affect all parties involved (Gipson, Hunt, McGinn, Mercado, & Svensson, 2014).

Therefore, it could be argued that the management of change and the inability to reconcile both sides of the argument are the primary issues that stand in the way of successfully resolving the issue. It is crucial to provide nursing school administrators with a chance to manage the issues associated with the regulation of professions and occupations while keeping in mind the unique characteristics of the target school environment. For instance, in hiring new staff, it is important to consider the problem of multiculturalism and the necessity to cater to the needs of students from different backgrounds. In addition, given the lack of employees with stellar records and outstanding skills, it is reasonable to invest in teachers by encouraging them to engage in the process of lifelong learning and acquire new competencies. Moreover, the problems related to student loans and debt should be addressed at the local level to ensure that the needs of target demographics are taken into account. At present, the Florida regulation system seems to be geared toward penalties as opposed to giving students from low-income background opportunities to receive a high-quality education. The lack of programs aimed at helping learners overcome financial challenges can be viewed as a reason for serious concern. Arguably, the regulatory bodies in Florida should address the issue of the lack of support for students with financial issues. This step can be justified by the fact that the target environment faces a drastic lack of qualified nursing staff (Lewallen, Hunt, Potts-Datema, Zaza, & Giles, 2015). Setting the bar lower for quality nursing standards would be undesirable and would imply failing to meet the needs of patients; thus, the idea of creating programs for students in nursing appears legitimate.

Potential Solutions

Quality Management and Standards Redesign

When considering the impact that the BON and similar institutions have on nursing schools, especially regarding the issue of approving candidates for teaching positions and terminating those deemed substandard, enhancing information management must be viewed as a crucial step toward handling the issue. In particular, nursing schools must have the authority to discuss the decisions made by the BON. These decisions, in turn, must not be final and should be open to discussion. While this change is likely to complicate and even slow the process, it will also help reduce the threat of making a mistake and terminating the employment of a person who has a positive record.

The specified step will require not only rearranging the role and responsibilities of the BON and nursing schools but also enhancing the communication process between the stakeholders involved, as well as how the available data is managed. In particular, the data required for decision-making in terms of changes in the hiring policy, the choice of candidates for particular positions, the management of problems associated with student debt, the investigation of conflicts that occur between the members of the administration within the school environment, and more, will have to be handed cooperatively with the members of the nursing schools in question. Although the change under consideration may entail possible ethical concerns due to the personal interests of the representatives of nursing schools, it will also allow for a more reasonable approach toward managing HR-related issues and the problems associated with student loans. Furthermore, the creation of programs aimed at providing financial support and encouraging the acquisition of new knowledge and skills can be spurred by encouraging collaboration between the members of the board and the representative of nursing schools in Florida (Shin, Sok, Hyun, & Kim, 2014).

Apart from enhancing the information management process and reconsidering the range of responsibilities and roles given to the BON, it is also necessary to consider programs aimed at improving the environment of nursing schools and offering extra options to students and teachers. For example, a recent loan forgiveness program launched to assist students and nurses who were experiencing financial difficulties can be deemed a decent solution to the problem of handling student debt without the drastic measures that the current regulations demand (Coffey et al., 2016).

Furthermore, while a temporary solution, reconsidering hiring policies in terms of moving toward less stringent standards is also likely to affect the quality of education and nursing services delivered to Florida’s population. Therefore, it will be essential to introduce programs aimed at improving the competencies of nurses, allowing educators to gain new knowledge and skills for teaching students, and providing learners the opportunity to gain the knowledge and competencies that will meet the highest standards. This step will require rearranging available resources and placing a much greater emphasis on education. For instance, enhancing lifelong learning as the basis for acquiring new skills in the ever-changing realm of nursing must be considered a necessity. The change under discussion is especially important, given the increasingly fast pace of globalization and the necessity to participate in multicultural discourse (Jirwe, Emami, & Gerrish, 2015). Consequently, to ensure honesty and objectivity when regulating professions and occupations in the environment of the Florida nursing education environment, it is crucial to encourage cultural competence as a foundation for decision-making.

Defending the Position

Reasons for Emphasis on Quality and Communication

Although the idea of addressing communication-related issues and creating additional options for education as opposed to restricting opportunities for unqualified staff to enter the realm of nursing education might seem a misstep, in fact, this course of action is justified by the need to introduce opportunities for education. Unless students and teachers are given a choice that implies increasing the levels of their competencies and acquiring new knowledge, the BON will be negatively impacted by the lack of qualified staff. Furthermore, the need for students to deal with their financial issues, particularly student loans and the debt problems that follow, may make learners less likely to be willing to participate in the nursing education process. Consequently, the range of nurses capable of delivering services that meet quality requirements will be further reduced, contributing to the healthcare crisis that Florida is currently experiencing (Heckman, Lim, & Montalto, 2014).

The importance of communication between the BON and Florida nursing schools should also be regarded as a priority since it will lead to a significant improvement in the present-day requirements concerning the regulations of professions and occupations. Because of the necessity to choose only highly qualified people to be teachers in nursing schools, the BON is in a very awkward position, given the drastic lack of qualified nurses. Therefore, an improved communication process between the BON and nursing schools will facilitate training candidates and supervising their progress. As a result, the management of professions and occupations will no longer boil down to dismissing unqualified staff and will instead be geared toward providing staff members with an opportunity to improve their skills and develop the competencies that will allow them to improve the education process significantly. Consequently, the process of establishing a foundation for managing the shortage of qualified nurses in the realm of Florida nursing and health care will be successful.

Summary

Introducing Flexible Regulation Standards

The authority that the BON has over a range of nursing school operations, including opening them and shutting them down, is likely to become a major issue unless a proper communication system is introduced to channel essential data for further analysis, or unless school authorities are given more agency and independence when it comes to managing school-related issues such as the management of professions and occupations, closing and opening schools, and more.

The current problem of the nursing shortage evident in the environment of the Florida healthcare system as well as in its nursing education institutions must not be managed by making quality standards less rigid. Quite the contrary, the quality of nursing services and the education process must remain high to create an environment where patients will feel secure and students and nurses will feel empowered to gain new knowledge and skills, thus embracing the process of lifelong learning. However, the impact of the BON on the decisions made in the environment of nursing schools must be reduced because of the board’s lack of understanding of the schools’ specifics and characteristics. Although checking the validity of nurses’ and nurse educators’ licenses must remain a priority to prevent incompetent people from reducing the quality of education, the issue of student debt and the associated problems will need to be managed with the help of supportive programs as opposed to penalties and expelling students from nursing schools.

Therefore, flexibility must be considered a priority in determining the roles and responsibilities of the BON and Florida nursing school authorities. It is crucial to focus on designing a system that will allow for a detailed analysis of the records of nurse educators, which in essence means an evaluation of their eligibility as candidates for positions in nursing schools. Similarly, the management of students’ debts and similar financial issues require the supervision of the BON. However, it is also essential to provide nursing schools with enough independence to assist the students and teachers who experience difficulties as opposed to restricting opportunities for education and professional development. As a result, the issues that the Florida nursing environment is currently experiencing regarding the lack of qualified nurses will eventually be resolved. In focusing on quality and communication, the current regulations require revision to handle the problem and lead to further improvement of conditions for both teachers and students.

References

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