Rochester, N.Y. - Rochester General Hospital is putting licensed practical nurses on notice.
The hospital says because of changes over the years in state licensing standards, LPNs who don't pursue degrees as Registered Nurses can not work in inpatient care in the hospital.
This affects 40 Licensed Practical Nurses at RGH.
The 20 LPNs at RGH who are already in school, are being given until 2014 to earn a RN degree.
13WHAM learned about this change from some of the nurses affected by the move. They told us it made them feel displaced and looked down upon.
But hospital administrators insist it has nothing to do with the work that LPNs do.
They praise these nurses for being compassionate and offering care to patients.
But under state licensing guidelines, licensed practical nurses are not allowed to assess or evaluate patients, they also cannot develop a plan to care for patients.
While they can give out medicine, there are limitations with antibiotics given for the first time. And while they can put in an IV, they cannot push the medicine through it.
LPNs who decide not to go back to school will have until June to apply for other jobs in nursing homes, doctors offices or non-patient care units within the hospital.
The hospital says this is about quality care and patient safety.
RGH Senior Vice-President and Chief Nursing Officer Cheryl Sheridan tells us, studies show that there are better patient outcomes, when Registered Nurses are providing care.
Michelle Michael-Korn has seen both sides of this. She was an LPN at Highland and loved her job. But she soon grew frustrated because she was limited in what kind of patient care she could perform.
Now Michelle is an RN in the Emergency Department at Highland. A job she wouldn't have if she had not returned to school. Highland doesn't hire LPNs to work in critical care areas.
Highland's Director of Nursing, Tommye Hinton, says it is a matter of patient care and patient safety.
"While LPNs aren't told they cannot work in these areas, they are no longer hired to work there," Hinton says.
Nursing programs like the one at MCC will likely benefit from this move. The Director of Nursing there tells us, their classes are filling up because many LPNs know, they need this education to get jobs in acute care.