Repat, good luck. Here is my letter to the editor:
February 1, 2002
In Gov. Gray Davis' State of the State address Jan. 2, concerning the state's "nursing shortage crisis," he said, "One key component of California's work force is our nursing corps. We must recruit and train thousands of new nurses who are the backbone of our medical delivery system. In the coming weeks, I will propose measures to expand the number of nurses throughout the state. I will provide incentives to clinics and hospitals that support clinical placements for nursing students, new graduates and returning nurses. We will also remove barriers to qualified licensed nurses moving to California from other states and other countries."
I am a returning nurse. Or, I am trying to be. I am struggling to cut through the red tape of overwhelming obstacles of bureaucracy to return to nursing.
Currently, the Board of Registered Nursing states that for a former nurse to be licensed in California, he/she must first obtain an active license (reactivate a former license) in another state.
Other states' requirements under the same conditions provide avenues for re-licensure via methods including retaking the Nursing Boards (NCLEX) exam or taking a nursing refresher course, or taking a specified number of continuing education credits, doing volunteer health activities, etc. California does not accept any of these methods.
Personally, although I have not had an active license since 1994, I have three college degrees and 20 years of nursing experience. I have volunteered to take a refresher course, take the NCLEX, and have already taken well over 120 hours of California-approved continuing education units.
However, in order to be licensed as a registered nurse in California, I must now pay a $265 fee to reapply for a license in Alaska. Then, I must retake the NCLEX (per the Alaska board), pay for a flight to Alaska to appear before the board, incur hotel and ground transportation charges, (approximate total cost $2,000, which I cannot afford) all to obtain a license in Alaska (a state in which I will never live or work again). Then the California Board of Registered Nursing will consider licensing me here.
It's no wonder there's a nursing shortage crisis in this state. Bottom line is, the board is not nurse-friendly. That makes the state responsible for the shortage, despite the new nurse/patient ratio (which I enthusiastically applaud) mandate.
In my experience, former nurses who would like to return to nursing, when meeting these unrealistically overwhelming obstacles, will take a big sigh and give up. Disheartened and defeated, they will find another career.
Please, Gov. Davis, if you really want to improve health care for our residents, if you really want to increase the number of RN's in California, don't overlook one of this state's most valuable resources, and remove this major impediment. Soon you'll hear the enthusiastic cheers of "We're baaaack!"
SUSAN MANCHESTER Coronado