Thursday, June 7, 2007

Step #5b: Letter to WI Legislators on Health Committees

I sent this slightly revised letter to each member of the State Senate Committee on Health & Human Services and the State Assembly Committee on Health & Healthcare Reform today. In this letter I tried to be more clear about exactly what I am asking of them.
Thursday June 7, 2007

Senator/Representative [name]
Committee on Health & Human Services/ Committee on Health & Healthcare Reform
Room XXX
State Capitol
Madison, WI 5370X

Dear Senator/Representative [name]:

As a member of the Wisconsin State [Senate Committee for Health & Human Services/ Assembly Committee on Health & Healthcare Reform] I would like to bring your attention to a problem with the Wisconsin Department of Regulation & Licensing's relationship with Marquette University. I will give an overview of the problem here, but further details and documents can be found on my web site:

Marquette University runs a Direct Entry nursing program that 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 the Wisconsin Nurse Practice Act 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 before individuals can 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.

It is the DRL's job to enforce occupational licensing laws, and yet they have entered into an agreement with Marquette University that violates the very laws they should be enforcing. The DRL has not yet responded to my requests that they require Marquette's Direct Entry students to hold a degree before they may become licensed as RN's in Wisconsin (as is clearly required by the Wisconsin Nurse Practice Act) so I am appealing to you to become an advocate for my cause. Any "Special Agreement" between the DRL and a private university that allows for individuals to become licensed as RN's in Wisconsin without holding a degree is not legal, and must be immediately stopped.


Lydia Bertrand