The Nursing Practice Act (NPA) is the body of California law that mandates the Board to set out the scope of practice and responsibilities for RNs. The Practice Act is located in the California Business and Professions Code starting with Section 2700. Regulations that specify the implementation of the law appear in the California Code of Regulations (“Board Of Nursing”, n.d.). What is the NPA? How does it affect nurses? What are the requirements for getting a nursing license from the Board of Nursing? All of these are important questions for someone to ponder when considering joining the nursing profession.
Let us explore the ins and outs of becoming and being and registered nurse in California.
The Nurse Practice Act (NPA) is laws in each state that are instrumental in defining the scope of nursing practice. NPAs protect public health, safety, and welfare. This protection includes shielding the public from unqualified and unsafe nurses. In each state, statutory law directs entry into nursing practice, defines the scope of practice, and establishes disciplinary procedures.
State boards of nursing oversee this statutory law. They have the responsibility and authority to protect the public by determining who is competent to practice nursing (Business And Professions Code, n.d.).
“This chapter of the Business and Professions Code constitutes the chapter on professional nursing and shall be construed as revisory and amendatory of the laws heretofore enacted. It may be cited as the Nursing Practice Act” (Chapter 6 Nursing).
Article one administration. This is the Board of Nursing and this section remains in effect until January 2012 unless it is voted to extend the authority. The nursing board consists of nine members. Four represent the public at large and have no license and no ties to the healthcare industry. The board also has two registered nurses, one advanced practice nurse, one nurse educator, and one registered nurse that is an administrator of a nursing service (Business And Professions Code, n.d.). All members must be a citizen of the United States and a Resident of the State of California.
All appointments shall be for a term of four years and vacancies shall be filled for the unexpired term. No person shall serve more than two consecutive terms. Board positions appointed by the Governor, the senate rules Committee and the Speaker of the Assembly. The board elects from its members a president, vice president, and any other officers as it may deem necessary. The officers of the board shall hold their respective positions during their four-year term (Business And Professions Code, n.d.). The Governor has the power to remove any member of the board from office for neglect of any duty required by law, or for incompetency, or unprofessional or dishonorable conduct. The board for the purpose of transacting its business must meet at least once every three months, at times and places it designates by resolution (Business And Professions Code, n.d.).
“Protection of the public shall be the highest priority for the Board of Registered Nursing in exercising its licensing, regulatory, and disciplinary functions. Whenever the protection of the public is inconsistent with other interests sought to be promoted, the protection of the public shall be paramount” (Chapter 6 Nursing). Article two scope of regulations. According to “Board Of Nursing” (n.d.), the practice of nursing within the meaning of this chapter means those functions, including basic health care. Helping people cope with difficulties in daily living that are associated with their actual or potential health or illness problems or the treatment thereof, and that require a substantial amount of scientific knowledge or technical skill” (Chapter 6 Nursing). Direct and indirect patient care services that ensure the safety, comfort, personal hygiene, and protection of patients; and the performance of disease prevention and restorative measures (Business And Professions Code, n.d.).
Direct and indirect patient care services, including, but not limited to, the administration of medications and therapeutic agents, necessary to implement a treatment, disease prevention, or rehabilitative regimen ordered by and within the scope of licensure of a physician, dentist, podiatrist, or clinical psychologist (Business And Professions Code, n.d.). The performance of skin tests, immunization techniques, and the withdrawal of human blood from veins and arteries (Business And Professions Code, n.d.). Observation of signs and symptoms of illness, reactions to treatment, general behavior, or general physical condition, and determination of whether the signs, symptoms, reactions, behavior, or general appearance exhibit abnormal characteristics, and implementation, based on observed abnormalities, of appropriate reporting, or referral, or standardized procedures, or changes in treatment regimen in accordance with standardized procedures, or the initiation of emergency procedures (Business And Professions Code, n.d.).
There are standardized policies and procedures developed through collaboration with the Division of Licensing of the Medical Board of California and the Board of Registered Nursing may jointly approve or design new policy and procedures. If put into effect by official proclamation, the guidelines shall be administered by the Board of Registered Nursing (Business And Professions Code, n.d.). A registered nurse can dispense drugs or devices when ordered by a licensed physician or surgeon. A registered nurse cannot be employed to perform dispensing exclusively. A registered nurse cannot dispense medication in a pharmacy; keep a pharmacy, open shop or a drugstore for retailing drugs or poisons. No registered nurse shall compound drugs (Business And Professions Code, n.d.).
The Business and Professional Code, n.d. also includes how to get a license to be a registered nurse. “An applicant must have completed such general preliminary education requirements as shall be determined by the board. Have successfully completed the courses of instruction prescribed by the board for licensure, in a program in this state accredited by the board for training registered nurses, or have successfully completed courses of instruction in a school of nursing outside of this state which, in the opinion of the board at the time the application is filed with the Board of Registered Nursing, are equivalent to the minimum requirements of the board for licensure established for an accredited program in this state” (Business And Professions Code, n.d.). The board shall issue a license to each applicant who passes the examination and meets all other licensing requirements. The board shall discipline the holder of any license, whose default has been entered or who has been heard by the board and found guilty, by any of the following methods:
Chapter Six of the Business and Professional Code not only covers registered nurses but the following articles are also included:
The Nurse Practice Act as it is written in the Business and Professional Code defines and lays out a scope of practice to direct a nurse at any level to provide the best possible care while staying within their scope of practice. By following the Nurse Practice Act and providing professional skilled nursing, I will be able to provide care and help my patients to the best of my ability while staying in the confines that my license allows.