Patient care is the largest segment in the country’s entire health care workforce, and nursing is the largest healthcare profession. This work analyzes nursing in the United States and analyzes the Business and Professions Code in detail, namely chapter 6.5. Vocational Nursing in division 2.
Section 2 of this chapter, section 2862, specifies that a student may provide professional nursing services on January 1, 2022, enrolled in an approved vocational nursing school when the services are not related to the student’s course of study (California Legislative Information, 2022). Students who had not yet received a license began to be attracted to professional practice.
This law, namely amendments to a particular article, was adopted given the current difficult epidemiological situation worldwide. Even though the United States is in the first place in the world in terms of healthcare spending, the country is experiencing an acute shortage of personnel, which has increased markedly during the pandemic (Sagherian et al., 2020). The increased workload of nurses and doctors has negative consequences for medical personnel, affecting their activities. Insomnia, fatigue, high exposure to the risk of infection with a new, unexplored virus creates a lot of stressful situations (Sagherian et al., 2020). Moreover, nurses now have a global responsibility as the virus has taken over the world. In this regard, the inclusion of still trained nurses plays a critical role in meeting the demand for health services. They bear the burden of the initial assessment of the patient, the flow of which has increased many times over. In this regard, this amendment has become highly relevant at this period.
Supporters of this law are, first of all, the nurses and doctors themselves, as they were the first to face this problem and feel all its consequences. There were acute shortages in personnel matters and personal protective equipment, beds, medical equipment, and information (Al Thobaity & Alshammari, 2020). In this regard, the workload increased exponentially, and, accordingly, the appeals of medical personnel to authorized persons increased. State and local authorities assumed a great responsibility by adopting this law, but it became available already when the vaccines were created.
The law was not adopted for several reasons, often due to ethical aspects more than legal ones. Firstly, the admission to the professional practice of students without experience and obtaining a license can naturally cause dissatisfaction and distrust on the part of the patient. Given the specifics of the virus, its novelty, and the absence of such cases in medical practice, at the initial stage, the most acute issue is professionalism and responsibility. The admission of students does not seem to be the only right decision in this case since the responsibility falls on them at the global level. Secondly, the state endangers the students themselves, given the lack of personal protective equipment for quite a long time. It is partly why the law comes into force only now, when several vaccines are available, almost all medical institutions are provided with personal protective equipment, and there is already some experience in the fight against the virus. Students are allowed to work at a less dangerous time when the work of more experienced staff has made available the use of various practical approaches to patients.
Criticism of this law, namely the approach to the use of students without a license in professional practice, includes, first of all, an assessment of long-term prospects. The current staff shortage had its roots even before the pandemic, but these problems have not been resolved. Moreover, now under stress, difficult ethical decisions that are not regulated by law, the shortage can increase due to internal causes and burnout. External problems affect the shortage of students in various medical professions. The aggravated situation may create new causes of shortages both within medical institutions and from the outside. Histories of burnout, job hazards, and harsh working conditions, as a result, may repel new medical students who want to work in the medical field (White et al., 2021). In a developing pandemic, the consequences can be highly damaging.
However, it is not uncommon for students to be willing to volunteer to help. The orientation of universal human values , in this case, is above the law and, in a problematic situation, bears fruit. In any case, the decisions are made by the state bodies regulating the law, and now, regardless of any situation, shortage or crisis, students will be able to participate in professional nursing practice. On the one hand, such practice will prepare students much better for authentic experience and develop the ability to adequately and calmly act in acute crises. On the other hand, it can endanger students who, already at the stage of training, will face insomnia, burnout, and other ailments of employees in this profession. As a result, the practice can negatively affect the very awareness of the profession, scaring off new applicants, causing even more significant shortages. In this regard, medical professionals must constantly contact government agencies to adopt the necessary laws and regulations promptly.
Al Thobaity, A., & Alshammari, F. (2020). Nurses on the frontline against the COVID-19 pandemic: an integrative review. Dubai Medical Journal, 3(3), 87-92. Web.
California Legislative Information. (2022). ARTICLE 2. Scope of Regulation [2859 – 2873.6]. Web.
Sagherian, K., Steege, L. M., Cobb, S. J., & Cho, H. (2020). Insomnia, fatigue and psychosocial well‐being during COVID‐19 pandemic: A cross‐sectional survey of hospital nursing staff in the United States. Journal of Clinical Nursing. Web.
White, E. M., Wetle, T. F., Reddy, A., & Baier, R. R. (2021). Front-line nursing home staff experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 22(1), 199-203. Web.