One woman’s legacy lives on in California
Taking place May 6 through 12, National Nurses Week is time to reflect upon the countless contributions of nursing professionals in the United States and California.
May 12—the birthday of Florence Nightingale—is the keystone of the week’s national observation as well as annual nursing celebrations across the globe. As part of a lifetime of public-service accomplishments—famed military nurse, hospital administrator, health and social reformer, statistician, author, and more—Nightingale established the world’s first formal nursing school and curriculum in London in 1860.
Nightingale’s educational and professional example served as a swift worldwide inspiration: Just 40 years after her London school opened, there were more than 400 nursing schools in the U.S. alone, including several in California.
To help protect the public and regulate the state’s growing nursing profession and schools, California’s Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) was created in 1905. In 1939, California’s Nursing Practice Act (NPA) was established, describing the practice of nursing. Through the years, the scope of BRN’s regulation has moved from registration to the licensure level with a defined scope of practice. BRN is responsible for implementation and enforcement of the NPA, which includes laws related to nursing education, licensure, practice, and discipline.
To oversee the state’s allied nursing practices and educational programs, California’s Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT) was created in 1951 to regulate the licensed vocational nursing profession. Psychiatric technicians were added to BVNPT’s purview in 1959.
Today, Nightingale’s nursing legacy lives on in California through the work of 557,964 registered nurses, 128,332 licensed vocational nurses, and 11,367 psychiatric technicians, as well as in the many approved schools that train them. The Department of Consumer Affairs, the Board of Registered Nursing, and the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians salute the dedicated nursing professionals who make a difference—during National Nurses Week and each and every day—for the Californians in their care.
Related Reading: Licensed Vocational Nurses: Focused on Patient Care