Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Discussed by the Wisconsin Board of Nursing

Apparently my letter to the members of the Board got someone's attention, because it looks like I was discussed at the most recent meeting of the Wisconsin Board of Nursing on May 17th. The meeting agenda can be found here. I was surprised to find myself on the agenda since I have not been contacted by anyone from the Wisconsin Board of Nursing.

The minutes for the May 17th meeting should be available on the web some time after the next meeting on June 21st. The minutes might contain more information than the agenda, which simply indicates that I was discussed.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Step #5: Letter to State Senators and State Assembly Representatives for the City of Milwaukee

This letter was sent to all of the state senators and state assembly representatives for districts in the City of Milwaukee:

State Senate:
District 3, Tim Carpenter
District 4, Lena Taylor
District 5, Jim Sullivan
District 6, Spencer Coggs
District 7, Jeffrey Plale
District 8, Alberta Darling

State Assembly:
District 7, Peggy Krusick
District 8, Pedro Colon
District 9, Josh Zepnick
District 10, Annette Polly Williams
District 11, Jason Fields
District 12, Frederick Kessler
District 13, David Cullen
District 14, Leah Vukmir
District 15, Tony Staskunas
District 16, Leon Young
District 17, Barbara Toles
District 18, Tamara Grigsby
District 19, Jon Richards
District 20, Christine Sinicki
District 21, Mark Honadel
District 22, Sheldon Wasserman
District 23, Jim Ott
Thursday May17, 2007

Room XXX
State Capitol
Madison, WI 5370X

Dear [name]:

As a [state senator/state assembly representative] for a district in the City of Milwaukee, 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:


Marquette’s Direct Entry nursing program is designed for individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree in an area unrelated to nursing. Students become RN’s after the first 15 months of the program (the pre-MSN phase), and then move directly into master’s studies. At the end of the 3-year program students are awarded a master’s degree (MSN) in a nursing specialty.

As a Direct Entry nursing student at Marquette University I was told that Marquette and the Wisconsin Department of Regulation & Licensing (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.

This is a problem because State Law (Wisconsin Nurse Practice Act 441.04) requires individuals to graduate from a school of nursing in order to become licensed as an RN. Section 441.04 of the Wisconsin Nurse Practice Act lists requirements to sit for the licensure 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.

One of the forms required by the DRL in order to take the licensure exam is a "Statement of Graduation" form. Marquette fills out this "Statement of Graduation" form for Direct Entry nursing students; complete with a graduation date filled in, the signature of Dr. Judith Miller, associate dean for graduate programs & research in Marquette’s College of Nursing, and the Marquette University seal. At the same time Marquette refuses to certify graduation to any other party. For your convenience I have enclosed a copy of the "Statement of Graduation" form that Marquette filed with the DRL for me, although the Marquette seal is not visible on this photocopy.

Continuing to allow Marquette to flagrantly disregard the law in this manner serves only to prevent qualified individuals from obtaining RN licensure in other states while the nation is in the midst of a nursing shortage crisis. When Celia M. Jackson, the Secretary of the DRL, was asked directly whether or not she supports Marquette University's absurd "interpretation" of the Nurse Practice Act, she did not respond.

I urge you to force Marquette University to bring its Direct Entry nursing program into compliance with Wisconsin State Law. If Marquette wishes to run a Direct Entry nursing program, then they must provide students with actual degrees and graduation dates before they can become RN’s - just like every other private university in Wisconsin that wishes to make its students eligible for RN licensure in Wisconsin must do. This is clearly what is required by the Wisconsin Nurse Practice Act.


Lydia Bertrand

cc: Celia M. Jackson, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Regulation & Licensing

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Nursing Shortage In Mississippi

This article in the New York Times discusses the distressing increase in infant deaths in Mississippi. The article lists the nursing shortage as one of the many contributing factors to this problem.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee's Direct Entry Nursing Program

The University of Wisconsin -Milwaukee (UWM) started a Direct Entry Nursing program shortly after Marquette University started theirs. Until recently I had not done much research on UWM's program since the legal basis for their program is not really relevant to my campaign with Marquette. I imagined that UWM probably had some kind of written "special agreement" with the Wisconsin Department of Regulation & Licensing (DRL) similar to the one that Marquette claims to have, possibly even in the form of a letter from Mr. Wayne Austin to the Dean of UWM's College of Nursing like Marquette's.

Since UWM's Direct Entry program does not meet the Wisconsin Nurse Practice Act by providing a degree to its students before they become RNs, it seems like there should be some kind of formal written documentation that acknowledges Wisconsin's acceptance of this program. When an open records review of all documents relating to Direct Entry nursing programs in Wisconsin was requested of Celia Jackson, the Secretary of the Wisconsin DRL, she responded:

Concerning your request . . . for documents authorizing a direct entry nursing program at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, my staff has been unable to find such documents. Wayne Austin's personal drive and e-mail has also been searched for information concerning direct entry programs. Only the 1999 letter from Mr. Austin to the Marquette School of Nursing was found which is already attached.

So according to the DRL, there is apparently NO formal documentation whatsoever that UWM's Direct Entry program is considered valid by the State of Wisconsin, even though the program violates state law by not conferring degrees to its students before they become RN's.