Senate Republicans Support Legislation to Remove the Politicization From Licensing and Education

Nurses Should Practice Medicine, Not Politics
Monday, August 30, 2010

CONTACT: Damon Conklin @ (916) 651-1521

SACRAMENTO, CA ---- Legislation to ensure continuing education of nurses focuses on patient care, not lobbying or political advocacy was killed today in the Senate Business and Professions Committee on a party line vote.

Co-authored and presented in committee by Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) and Assembly member Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills), Assembly Bill 378, if enacted, would have affirmatively precluded the California Nurses Association (CNA) from granting Continuing Education (CE) credits for attendance at political rallies, or from offering classes that advance or promote labor organizing, lobbying, candidate or political advocacy. The bill was held in committee, and with only a day and a half left before the end of the legislative year, odds are that this measure will not be passed.

“You have a very powerful union that has a substantial amount of money. Political advocacy is what dues are for. Political advocacy is the responsibility of the union,” said Senator Huff. “However, and without a doubt, obtaining continuing education credits for attending a political rally is unacceptable.”

It has come to the attention of the Legislature by a whistleblower that CNA has offered CE credits to some members of the association as an inducement to attend CNA political events. Moreover, it was determined that CNA also offers CE credits to nurses attending classes focused upon lobbying and political organizing. In response, Republicans introduced and supported AB 378 to ensure that accredited courses focus on patient care.

California’s nurses are required to obtain 30 hours of continuing education courses every two years in order to renew their license.

The California Code of Regulations defines continuing education “as a variety of forms of learning experiences, including, but not limited to, lectures, conferences, academic studies, in service education, institutes, seminars, workshops, extension studies, and independent/home study programs undertaken by registered nurses for re-licensure. These learning experiences are meant to enhance the knowledge of the registered nurse in the practice of nursing in direct and indirect patient care.”

“Continuing education courses are vital to medical professionals like myself when it comes to providing safe and reliable care to the patients we serve,” said Senator Aanestad (R-Grass Valley), a licensed oral and maxillofacial surgeon. “If anyone believes that patient safety will be vastly improved by awarding nurses education credits for attending political rallies or events – that person is sadly mistaken. Continuing education courses are vitally important for all medical fields – and you’re not serving the best interests of patients if that education is limited to holding a sign at a rally.”