Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Second Letter To Father Wild

Tuesday April 3, 2007

Robert A. Wild, S.J.
Office of the President
Marquette University
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201

Dear Father Wild:

Thank you for your letter dated March 28, 2007. I had a lot to say in my last letter, and so perhaps my main point was not clear.

I am not asking Marquette University to influence any state authorities, or to fulfill the licensure requirements of any state other than Wisconsin. The only thing I am asking of Marquette is to bring the Direct Entry nursing program into compliance with Wisconsin State Law.

The Wisconsin Nurse Practice Act 441.04 lists requirements to sit for the licensure exam (emphasis mine):

Any person who has graduated from a high school or its equivalent as determined by the board, does not have an arrest or conviction record . . . holds a diploma of graduation from an accredited school of nursing, and if the school is located outside this state, submits evidence of general and professional educational qualifications comparable to those required in this state at the time of graduation may apply to the department for licensure by the board as a registered nurse, and upon payment of the fee . . . shall be entitled to examination.

The Wisconsin Administrative Code N 2.03 also discusses requirements to sit for the RN licensure exam, and includes this requirement (emphasis mine):

Has graduated from a board-approved school of professional nursing.

Both the Wisconsin Nurse Practice Act and the Wisconsin Administrative Code both clearly require graduation. Although up to this time the State of Wisconsin has interpreted its licensing requirements to allow students who have completed the pre-MSN phase of Marquette’s Direct Entry Program to sit for the licensing exam, this interpretation is on shaky ground. I suspect that this absurd “interpretation” of the law may not hold up to legal scrutiny - and I am perfectly willing to find out if it will stand up to legal scrutiny if this problem is not resolved in another way.

My signing of the “Memorandum of Understanding” is meaningless because this document required me to agree to allow Marquette to do something that is not legal. I signed the Memorandum because I was required to do so in order to become a student in the Direct Entry program, and at the time that I signed it I was not aware that the contents of the Memorandum directly contradict the Nurse Practice Act and the Wisconsin Administrative Code. I assure you that I never would have decided to become a student in Marquette’s Direct Entry program if I had known that the program did not meet the legal requirements for RN licensure in the state of Wisconsin.

I asked to be granted a BSN for several reasons. [name], Graduate Program Assistant for the College of Nursing, told me in an e-mail on February 23, 2007 that the State of Wisconsin considers Direct Entry students to have earned a “BSN equivalent.” (Enclosed) Also, on the “Statement of Graduation” form that we fill out for the Department of Regulation & Licensing Direct Entry students are told to mark the box for “BSN.” (Enclosed) Dr. Judith Miller told me in her letter dated February 26, 2007 that this is because Marquette does not “want [its] professional nurses to check LPN, or ADN on the application form.” And as a University, I was under the impression that Marquette does not issue Associate’s degrees. The fact remains that the Law requires students to graduate from a nursing program of some kind in order to become licensed.

Although I already explained why the “Memorandum of Understanding” that I signed is invalid, I think you should know that this document was altered after I signed it. The “Memorandum of Understanding” that I signed states: “you will be eligible to take the professional licensing exam for nursing in the State of Wisconsin.” It does not address RN licensure in any other state one way or the other. After I signed the Memorandum someone added in handwriting the word “only” after the word “Wisconsin,” which completely changes the meaning of the sentence. You state in your letter dated March 28th that by signing the “Memorandum of Understanding” that I “agreed that . . . [I] would be eligible to take the licensing exam in the State of Wisconsin, but not in any other state.” This is not accurate. The “Memorandum of Understanding” that I signed did not say this, nor have I ever been told this verbally. Dr. Judith Miller told me verbally when I left the program that I “may not be able to become licensed in another state,” and that Marquette “could not guarantee licensure in another state.” I never signed a form, or was ever told verbally by Dr. Judith Miller or anyone else, that I definitely would not be able to become licensed in any other state. In any case, my acknowledgment of these verbal statements by Dr. Miller at the time that I left the program is irrelevant for the same reason that the “Memorandum of Understanding” is - these statements reflect a Marquette policy that directly contradicts Wisconsin State law.

Wisconsin State law requires registered nurses to graduate from a school of nursing. Any interpretation of the law that honors a program that does not graduate its students is ludicrous. The best solution to this problem, for all parties involved, is for Marquette University to bring the Direct Entry nursing program into compliance with Wisconsin State law by issuing a nursing degree and graduation date to students who complete the pre-MSN portion of the program.


Lydia Bertrand