(from Rocky Mountain Skeptics / March 1993)
Good morning. My name is Linda Rojas. I am a registered nurse and vice president of the Rocky Mountain Skeptics. With me today are Bela Scheiber, President of the Skeptics and Susan Houck, another of our board members. We would like to thank you for giving us this opportunity to meet with Colorado Board of Nursing today. We represent a group of citizens interested in the Board of Nursing's current policy on continuing education and would like to pose a few questions regarding this.
Specifically, we are concerned about a growing number of continuing education classes instructing nurses in practices which have no scientific research to back them up. A few representative class subjects which have been approved for credit in Colorado include: TT (Therapeutic Touch), NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), Reflexology, Applied Kinesiology, Crystal Healing and Acupressure. Where is the data to substantiate any of the claims made by these unconventional practices? What evidence has persuaded the Board of Nursing to lend their tacit endorsement to these practices through the continuing education and relicensing process? Who is accountable?
This, of course, is a consumer issue. What is ultimately at stake here is the delivery of quality nursing care. In our opinion, unproven practices, promising dubious benefits, can not even be considered harmless -- along with the risk of interfering with, or delaying proven, effective therapies, comes the problem of wasting time, money and other resources. As a profession, we are duty-bound to regulate reasonable boundaries of acceptable care.
Whenever possible, we must protect our patients from unsubstantiated claims. And here the link between excellence in patient care and quality nursing education is undeniable. If continuing education is important for relicensing, then continuing education has to be worth something. As set down by law, acceptable subject matter for continuing education shall, and I quote -- "reflect the professional education needs for the learner in order to meet the health care needs of the consumer." I'm sure we can all agree that minimally, nurses need scientifically-validated standards to provide the public with the best possible care.
While there are members of the nursing profession who readily employ questionable practices, unencumbered by the lack of empirical evidence, it might be wiser for regulatory bodies to seriously contemplate how the application of unsubstantiated claims could have clinical, ethical, and political, as well as legal repercussions. One day, accountability for the tolerance of unproven, unscientific and questionable policies may be demanded. In conclusion, we would kindly request the Colorado Board of Nurses to respond, at their convenience, to the following question: How can Board-recognized, credentializing organizations be made responsible and accountable for the content of continuing education classes?
We thank the Board for their time and attention. We would appreciate any comments you might have at this time and also look forward to addressing the Board on the subject of unproven and unscientific nursing practices in the future.
Copyright 1996, Rocky Mountain Skeptics
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