Thursday, April 19, 2007

Step #4: Letter to the Members of the Wisconsin Board of Nursing

I sent this letter out this morning to each member of the Wisconsin Board of Nursing. They should get it around Tuesday of next week.
Thursday April 19, 2007

Member, Wisconsin Board of Nursing
State of Wisconsin
Department of Regulation and Licensing
PO Box 8935
Madison, WI 53708-8935

Dear [name]:

As a member of the Wisconsin Board of Nursing, I would like to bring to your attention a problem with Marquette University’s Direct Entry Nursing program. I will give an overview of the problem here, but further details and documents can be found on my web site:

I was a member of the 6th cohort of Marquette’s Direct Entry program in 2004-2005, but I left the program before the completion of an MSN degree. After I completed the pre-MSN portion of the Direct Entry program I passed NCLEX-RN and obtained licensure in Wisconsin. When I was unable to become licensed in Mississippi, where I am now living, I began to research licensure laws and procedures in the two states in order to find out how I could get a license in Mississippi. During this process I discovered the Wisconsin Nurse Practice Act 441.04, which lists requirements to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam in Wisconsin (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.

As a Direct Entry Student at Marquette I was told that Marquette and the DRL hold a "special agreement" that allows Direct Entry Students to gain RN licensure in Wisconsin without holding a degree. When I requested a copy of this "special agreement" from the DRL under the Wisconsin Public Records Law I was provided with documents indicating that Wisconsin would consider completion of the pre-MSN phase of Marquette’s Direct Entry program to constitute "graduation" for the purposes of RN licensure, even though Marquette is adamant that Direct Entry students do not actually graduate at that time.

I urge you to reevaluate the Board’s "special agreement" with Marquette. I simply can not understand why a Wisconsin state agency would agree to a blatant misinterpretation of State Law that seems to serve only to facilitate the financial gain of a private institution. If Marquette wishes to run a Direct Entry nursing program, then they must be required to provide students with actual degrees and graduation dates before they can sit for NCLEX – just like every other private university in Wisconsin. This is clearly what is required by the Wisconsin Nurse Practice Act.


Lydia Bertrand

cc: Jeff Scanlan, Director, Bureau of Health Services Professions
Colleen Baird, Legal Counsel for the Wisconsin Board of Nursing