The mission of the North Carolina Board of Nursing (Board) is to protect the public by regulating the practice of nursing. The extent of the Board’s involvement in activities related to policy reform is focused on those policy-related activities that uphold the Board’s mission of public protection. The Board’s legislative team maintains an active presence at the legislature to share the expertise of the Board on matters that relate to the regulation of nursing practice. The Board also serves as a resource to legislators, providing education on the nursing population and regulation of nurses in North Carolina (NC), in addition to responding to inquiries from the legislature on matters related to nursing practice and regulation. Additionally, the Board’s legislative team monitors the content of bills introduced each session for their potential to impact the work of the Board and the practice of nursing. As necessary, the Board submits written comments regarding proposed legislation or testifies at legislative hearings to provide legislators with the information necessary to make informed decisions about legislation that may impact the practice of nursing, or the health and safety of the public.
One example of a specific policy reform activity of the Board from the 2019-2020 legislative session is the legislation signed into law on July 26, 2019 to update the NC Nursing Practice Act (NPA). Part II of NC Session Law 2019-180, which became effective October 1, 2019, contains provisions to protect the safety of the public and enhance the operational efficiency of the Board. The updates outlined in Session Law 2019-180 include revision of vague, outdated (pre-HIPAA) language in the NPA, formatting and definition revisions, clarification of the subpoena power and disciplinary authority of the Board, and confidentiality protections for materials gathered by the Board. Within the provisions in the new law is the requirement for nurses to self-report arrests or indictments to the Board within 30 days for any of the following: (1) any felony arrest or indictment; (2) any arrest for driving while impaired or driving under the influence; and (3) any arrest or indictment for the possession, use, or sale of any controlled substance. The Board regulates the practice of nursing for more than 160,000 nurses in NC. Updates to the NPA are made to reflect the current practice of nursing in an ever-changing health care environment and to ensure that the laws governing the regulation of nursing practice in NC facilitate the work of the Board in its legislated mandate to protect the safety of the public.