The State of Nebraska has recently revised its Nursing Assistant Regulations. (For continuity with licensure regulations, they have also been transferred to the Health Professional and Occupational Licensure Title of the Nebraska Administrative Code (172 NAC).) The new regulations pertain primarily to training, approval of training courses, and the Nursing Assistant Registry. A summary follows.

Nursing assistant training programs must now be approved through application to the Department (using the Department’s form) outlining the curriculum of the course. The curriculum must be in compliance with the regulations, including 75 hours of instruction, 16 hours of supervised practical training and focus on the prescribed topics including at least one hour of instruction on the responsibility to report suspected abuse or neglect. (The specifics are outlined in 172 NAC 108-003.01.)

The application for approval of a training course must include the names and authors of all textbooks to be used (including publisher and edition), or if no textbooks will be used, a list of written materials that will be used including the source of such materials. Applicants must specify the specific topic units to be covered in the course as set forth in the regulations, and the hours to be spent on each. The method of instruction for each unit has to be specified (e.g. lecture, demonstration, simulation, slide presentation, film strip, etc.) as well as a description of the practical training provided for each unit required by the regulations. Reading assignments, evaluation methods (written exams, demonstrations, competency check-off, etc.), an explanation of the grading system to be used, and other matters must be specified in the application, which must be submitted by the Executive Director at least 30 days prior to when the courses are to start.

Once approved, the courses do not require re-approval unless the course, or the law, are changed. If a nursing assistant training course is not approved, or such approval is suspended or revoked, the regulations provide notice and opportunity to be heard for the applicants. Attendance records are subject to review by the Department upon request and must be maintained for at least two years from the date of completion of each course. The nursing assistant training courses are also subject to on-site periodic review by the Department, and sponsors must provide written notices to the Department of the dates and location that a basic course will be held at least five working days before it is scheduled to begin.

In addition to other requirements, Nursing Assistants have to successfully complete an approved training course within 120 days of employment. Interestingly, a Nursing Assistant who becomes a Licensed Practical Nurse or a Registered Nurse his/her Nursing Assistant registration become null and void. Subsequently, if the Registered Nurse or a Licensed Practical Nurse nurse’s license is revoked, suspended, or voluntarily suspended in lieu of discipline, he/she cannot act as a Nursing Assistant in a nursing home either.

Of course, Nursing Assistants cannot have been convicted of a crime involving moral perpitude rationally related to his/her practice, and the Department documents such convictions on its Registry, making the Nursing Assistant ineligible for employment in a nursing home. The Department will give written notice of the reasons for the proposed finding and will place the name on the Registry 30 days after receipt of the notice unless a hearing is requested. Notably, after a year has passed from the date the Nursing Assistant was placed on the Registry, he/she may petition the Department to have the finding removed.

Nursing homes should become fully conversant with the training approval program requirements and organize accordingly. For a copy of the regulations, or to discuss any of the implications, feel free to contact the Knudsen Law Firm.

Kevin McManaman