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California short 41K nurses, and a new campaign blames state nursing board as reason why

Stand Up 4 Nurses says the board excessively caps enrollment in programs. Hundreds of thousands of nursing applicants were denied over the past decade

SACRAMENTO, Calif — Experts say there’s a need for 41,000 more registered nurses in California, and a new campaign launched Wednesday to address it.

Stand Up 4 Nurses said the State's Board of Registered Nursing is in part to blame because it puts excessive caps on enrollment, limiting the amount nurses. 

Robyn Nelson once supported the California Board of Registered Nurses. 

“I remember when I was at Sac State (as a professor) actually getting up and testifying before the legislature in support of the board of nursing, and now it's a it's a different world,” Nelson said. 

A nursing school dean, board member of the American Nurses Association (California chapter) and a board member of the California Association of Colleges of Nursing, Nelson said there are reasons for the shortage outside of the board. 

“The age of faculty and the faculty are retiring; nurses are retiring” Nelson said. "Sometimes, it's because it's very competitive.” 

She added, however, that the Board is one of the big reasons there’s been 252,000 people denied entry into nursing programs over the last decade in California. 

“When a school is approved, they're given a number that they can admit," Nelson said. "Then they will often, and do, go back to the Board of Nursing ask for increase, but the board is controlling that enrollment and there's a lot of reasons, of which I don't think any of them are justified.”

The Board of Nursing declined an interview with Political Reporter Morgan Rynor, so she followed up with a list of questions asking about the caps. By the time this story aired and was published, they did not respond. 

“So they are really trying to say that it's quality, they have to control the quality," Nelson said. "They (nurses) have their national examination, if they pass and are eligible for licensure, why isn't that a sufficient indication quality?”

There’s a bill in the state legislature that would extend the powers of the board for another year. Stand Up 4 Nurses wants to add an amendment to it and take away the ability of the board to cap enrollment. 

“Hospitals are just, there's so many nursing vacancies in the hospital,” Nelson said. 

Assemblymember Marc Berman authored the bill. Morgan Rynor reached out to his office for an interview or statement, but did not get back by time of publication. 

The bill already passed the Assembly. A senate committee just added it to the suspense file. That means sometime in the coming weeks there will be a suspense file meeting where they go through hundreds of bills, and they either make it to the floor for a vote or they are dead. 


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