TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale and Loretta Weinberg which would reorganize the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing and provide a permanent funding source was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.
“In order to provide high-quality health care in the Garden State, we need to have a well-trained, adaptable nursing workforce,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Health panel. “To that end, the Collaborating Center for Nursing has been an invaluable partner in keeping the nursing industry in New Jersey on top of the latest medical advances and treatment options available. We want to ensure that they will be able to continue their mission well into the future.”
“The nursing field has to constantly be able to incorporate new skills and best practices as medical technology pushes forward and the State needs to be able to meet the changing needs of nurses,” said Senator Weinberg. “The Center for Nursing has been a lead facilitator in improving nursing education and advancing Statewide health policy. The Center has proven its worth time and time again, and Senator Vitale and I are proud to support their continued good work in the years to come.”
The bill, S2651, would revise the appointment process for members of the Collaborating Center for Nursing Board. The bill amends current law, requiring the Dean of the College of Nursing at Rutgers to appoint all members, as opposed to the Governor and leaders of both Legislative Houses. The bill also expands the number of professional nurses from one to three on the 17-member board, and increases the term of office from two years to three years.
“As a public-private partnership working in tandem with the College of Nursing, we wanted to give the College more of a role in the day-to-day operations of the Center for Nursing,” said Senator Vitale. “The Dean of the College has direct contact with nursing professionals and educational experts, and can make a more informed decision on the best members to lead the Center for Nursing in their role expanding the understanding of the nursing profession.”
The bill also provides for a stable funding mechanism for the Center for Nursing. The bill would dedicate 5% of the initial and renewal licensing fees charged by the New Jersey Board of Nursing for professional and practical nurses to funding the center. Currently, funding is appropriated as a line-item from the General Fund each fiscal year.
“New Jersey has honored its commitment to funding the Center for Nursing through the annual budget process,” said Senator Weinberg. “However, we want to ensure that, even in financially dry times, the Center has a stable, dedicated funding stream, and that funding cannot be diverted without specific legislation. Our State’s medical response is to important to allow for the whims of future Legislatures, and this bill will ensure that we continue to make health care a priority in the Garden State.”
The Center for Nursing, based at the College of Nursing on Rutgers University’s Newark campus, is a primary source for data-based evidence to establish reliable health care policy that impacts nursing care, education and effects positive patient outcomes. The Center has, in the past, served as a catalyst to innovative health care practice and valuable education models for future nurses.
“The Center for Nursing is a vital component of our State’s health care education system,” said Senator Vitale. “It’s pushed the envelope, helping us to incorporate the latest in health care regulations and medical practice in the education of tomorrow’s crop of nursing professionals. Through this bill, we’re giving the Center for Nursing the statewide support to continue making a positive impact on the nursing profession and promoting a healthier New Jersey.”
The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, before going to the full Senate for consideration.