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In March 1909 a Board of Examiners for Nurses was created to regulate the practice of professional nursing in the State of Delaware. This agency required the registration of those desiring to practice nursing in the state and also provided penalties for any breach of its regulations.1

The Delaware State Association of Graduate Nurses was to nominate as examiners ten of its members who had had at least three years of experience in their field and four licensed physicians, two from each of the two leading medical schools.2 The Governor of the State appointed from that said number of Board of Examiners, to consist of two licensed physicians, one from each of the two leading schools of medicine, and three nurses each with at least three years experience.

The members of the Board annually elected from their membership a president, and a secretary, who would also serve as treasurer. Three members of the Board constituted a quorum and a special meeting could be called by the secretary upon written request from any two members.3

The secretary was required to keep a record of all meetings of the Board, including a register of the names of all nurses registered. These records were to be open at all times to the public.4

The salary of the secretary was not to exceed the appropriated sum. All monies received in excess of the allowance appropriated and other expenses was to be held by the treasurer for meeting the expenses of the Board and the cost of annual reports.5

The Board was to meet at least once a year to examine all applicants for registration and to determine their fitness and ability to give efficient care to the sick.6 The applicant had to furnish evidence that he or she was twenty-one years of age, of good moral character, a graduate of a training school connected with a general hospital where three years of training in systematic course of instruction was offered, and that he or she had received the equivalent of a high school education, or had passed an examination in collteral subjects satisfactory to the Board.7

A nurse who had received his or her certificate to practice nursing was entitled to be a “Registered Nurse.” No other person could assume the use of the title or use the abbreviation R.N.8 Violation of the act or false representation in applying for a certificate was a misdemeanor.9

The Board of Examiners of Nurses could revoke any certificate for sufficient cause, but before this was done, the holder of the certificate was to have thirty days notice, and, after a fair hearing of charges made, a majority vote of the whole Board could revoke the certificate.10

In 1963 the duties and functions of the Board of Examiners for Nurses was transferred to the new Delaware Board of Nursing. The new Board consists of five members, with three year terms. All members appointed to the Board are professional nurses with a degree in nursing, and are required to have at least three years active practice as nurses, with administrative or teaching experience.11

The Board is to have at least one member from each of the counties and the City of Wilmington. The members of the Board meet annually in June and elect a president and secretary-treasurer from their members, three members of the Board constituting a quorum. Special meetings of the Board can be called by the secretary-treasurer upon written request from the president or any two members.12

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The Board may appoint an Executive Director who maintains a register of all nurses licensed by the Board. The Executive Director must be a registered professional nurse and have a degree in nursing, with at least five years experience in an administrative or teaching position at an accredited school of nursing.13

Powers and duties of the Board include: (a) adopting and revising rules and regulations not inconsistent with the law; (b) prescribing curricula and standards for educational programs preparing persons for licensing; (c) providing for surveys of programs; (d) accrediting programs that meet the requirements of the Board and denying those that do no; (e) examining, licensing, and renewing the licenses of qualified applicants, including applicants for conducting schools of nursing; (f) conducting hearings upon charges calling for discipline of a licensee or revocation of a license; (g) having power to issue subpoenas, compel the attendance of witnesses, and administer oaths to persons giving testimony at hearings; (h) causing the prosecution of persons violating the board’s rules and have power to incur necessary expenses; (i) keeping a record of all proceedings; (j) making an annual report to the Governor; (k) appointing a person who was not a member of the Board to serve as executive officer to the Board; (l) defining the duties and fixing the compensation for the Executive Director; and (m) 1525 appointing and prescribing an advisory committee of licensed practical nurses.

All fees and other money received by the Board are paid to the State Treasurer. Expenses are, within the appropriations allowed for, paid by the Treasurer.14

The Board meets as often as needed, but not more than twelve times a year for the purpose of the examination of applicants for licensing. Applicants deposit their set fee at that time.15

Applicants for licenses to practice submit to the Board evidence that they are twenty years old, of good moral character, in good physical and mental health, have completed four years of high school, and graduated from a nursing school connected with a general hospital where at least two years of instruction is given in surgical, medical, obstetrical, pediatric, and psychiatric nursing.16

Every applicant for a license is also required to pass a written test. Upon passing the test the Board issues a license to the applicant to practice nursing as a registered professional nurse.17

Every applicant for a license as a practical nurse must submit to the Board evidence that he/she is eighteen years of age, of good moral character, in good physical and mental health, and has fulfilled educational and nursing qualifications required by the Board.18 Applicants are also required to pass a written examination.

The Board may issue a license to a R.N. or an L.P.N. by endorsement, without an examination, to any applicant who has been licensed under the laws of any state, territory or foreign country if, in the opinion of the Board, the applicant has the qualifications required for a license.19

Each December all professional or practical nurses who are registered must re-register by filing an application. Upon receiving the application, the Board verifies the information and issues a certificate of renewal to the applicant, good for one year. Any licensee allowing his license to lapse by failing to renew may be reinstated by the Board upon a satisfactory explanation and payment of a penalty.20

The Board may revoke or suspend any license to practice nursing issued by the Board upon proof that the person is guilty of fraud or crimes involving gross immortality; is unfit; is addicted to drugs; is mentally incompetent; is guilty of unprofessional conduct; or has willfully or repeatedly violated the rules and regulations of the Board. Upon the filing of a sworn complaint with the Board charging the person with the action specified, the Board may fix a time and place for a hearing of the charges.21

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If the charges are sustained, the Board may refuse to issue a license, or may revoke, suspend, or discipline a licensee as necessary. A suspended license may be reissued after a hearing and subsequent reapplication.

In July of 1970 the administrative, ministerial, fiscal, clerical, and examining functions of the Delaware Board of Nursing were transferred to the Division of Physical Health of the Department of Health and Social Services (RG 1500).22 Then, in 1979, the function again moved to a new Division of Professional Regulation created within the Department of Administrative Services (RG 1340), where it remains presently.23

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1 25 D.L., ch. 114.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

11 54 D.L., ch. 153.

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid.

16 Ibid.

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid.

22 57 D.L., ch. 301.

23 62 D.L., ch. 286.

clf/June 2, 1988; July 25, 1988; January 3, 1989; February 7, 1989