Missionary nurses in remote areas usually don’t have access to institutions where they can further their professional education. That’s one reason why they and other expatriate registered nurses are worried about legislation now in effect in ten states that requires overseas nurses to document their continuing education in order for them to retain their licenses from those states.

Jeannette Thiessen of MAP International protested such legislation at a recent executive committee meeting of the Council on Continuing Education of the American Nurses Association (ANA). Indicating the support (through correspondence) of some 800 missionary and other expatriate nurses, Thiessen advocated that U.S. nurses be allowed to retain active licensure while overseas without having to meet state continuing education requirements. Thiessen, a missionary nurse in India for twenty years, appeared at the meeting with representatives of Project HOPE and the U.S. State Department. They indicated that the problem was not that nurses don’t want to continue their education.

“Most of these [expatriate nurses] have already been upgrading their knowledge of nursing simply to cope with the challenges they face daily,” said Thiessen. Her employer, MAP International, offers printed materials and seminars to expatriates that convey current health concepts and opportunities for continuing education. The problem is in documenting this unstructured learning process, said Thiessen, which would be “difficult not only for the thousands of American nurses working overseas but for the state boards of registration as well.”

The ANA committee decided to recommend an exemption policy after hearing the appeal. While the ANA has no direct power over state legislation, ...

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