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February 7, 1966

Mandatory vs Permissive Licensure for Nurses

JAMA. 1966;195(6):496-497. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100060136045

The words "for the protection of the public" represent the rationale underlying the efforts of nursing, both professional and practical, to require licensure for all nurses by the states in which they practice. Without legal regulation of nursing practice, a patient has no assurance that the person who ministers to him during an illness is qualified to do so by completion of an approved educational program and the passing of an appropriate licensure examination. With the proliferation of new and potent drugs, new and more complex diagnostic procedures, and the many advances in surgery, and with accompanying emphasis on the nurses' understanding of the abundance of new equipment, the importance of the patient's fluid balance, and other facets of care, it has become increasingly vital to the safety of patients that nurses be adequately trained and properly licensed. In this regard the statement of the American Nurses' Association is unequivocal:

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