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Authors

  1. Bartz, Claudia PhD, RN, FAAN Col., Ret., U.S. Army

Article Content

Edward J. Halloran, in his Viewpoint ("Men, Medics, and Nursing," June), recommends that more U.S. Army medics become RNs as a means of solving the nursing shortage. He writes that state legislators should "take a second look at easing the way for medics to secure RN certification during or after military service" and that all service branches could "tweak their education ... toward giving medics the skills they'll need for later certification as RNs." Do other professions ease standards or "tweak" training to increase their numbers? No. Do other professions support two levels of preparation for one licensure examination? Again, no.

 

I have the greatest respect for army medics. Their training is rigorous and their work is hard, especially now, as many are repeatedly deployed to war zones. Those who choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in nursing have the opportunity to do so. Since the early 1990s, the Army Medical Department Enlisted Commissioning Program has funded two years of college for medics and other enlisted service members who can complete the requirements for a baccalaureate in two years. Those who attain a bachelor's degree are then commissioned as officers in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC); several hundred have completed this program successfully. In addition, the army has various other programs that culminate in a bachelor's degree.

 

The ANC has, since the early 1970s, required a bachelor's degree in nursing or higher for all nurses on full-time, active duty; it is also a prerequisite for promotion to major for nurses who are in the Army Reserve or Army National Guard. The ANC strongly supports baccalaureate entry to practice, and it is a tribute to the ANC's leadership that it has consistently maintained this policy in the face of steady pressure to ease these standards.

 

If the ANC were to yield to pressure from Congress and others to use associate's degree-prepared nurses interchangeably with baccalaureate-prepared nurses, there would be no need for army nurses to be designated "commissioned officers." In other words, nurses would have to settle for being something less than other army professionals, such as engineers, dentists, infantry officers, and logisticians, each of whom have commissioned officer corps. Is this the right direction for nursing? No.

 

Claudia Bartz, PhD, RN, FAAN Col., Ret., U.S. Army

 

Milwaukee, WI