By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN
Doing their part to fill the rapidly multiplying open nursing jobs, the Mississippi Board of Community and Junior Colleges has proposed an alternate and possibly more cost effective method of training nurses: the internet. Aspiring Licensed Practical Nurses would receive their education online, minus the practical clinical work which is considered a hallmark of nursing education programs.
The proposed legislation would tie in education and training for new LPNs with the state’s existing Workforce Enhancement Training Fund. The same fund has typically taught people new skills in areas such as automotive maintenance, computers and welding. Some state officials expressed concern that the fund money is already spread too thin, especially with rising unemployment. On the other side is the argument that the new training could create new nurses in a state that, like the rest of the country, desperately needs them. One source in the article even cited the lure of travel nursing as one of the contributing factors to the state’s shortage. This is ironic, considering that travel nursing was created in part to help ease shortages.
Since nursing is a hands-on profession with academic theory at the heart of it, nursing curriculums consist of a clinical and a theory component. I read and reread the article describing the proposed Mississippi LPN online training program legislation and I simply cannot understand how licensed practical nurses (emphasis on practical) can be trained effectively online. I am currently refreshing my RN license via an online course that has the two components that reflect my nursing school curriculum – theory and clinical (the portion which will not be online). Knowledge and practice go hand in hand in the field of nursing and despite the severity of the nursing shortage, I wonder to what lengths lawmakers will soon be willing to go, to put warm bodies in white uniforms.
Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.