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New Jersey Governor Conditionally Vetoes Surgical Technologist Bill

Publish Date: 11/15/2011

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie returned a surgical technologist education and certification bill back to the legislature without his signature last week, citing concerns that the bill would limit the pool of candidates eligible for employment as a surgical technologist.

The New Jersey legislature had passed Assembly bill 3946 and sent it to Governor Christie for signature on June 29, 2011.  As written, the bill would require education and certification of all surgical technologists, including specifically (a) successful completion of a nationally accredited educational program for surgical technologists, and (b) the certified surgical technologist credential administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting or other nationally accredited credentialing organization.

In his Veto memo, Governor Christie acknowledged that surgical technologists are important members of the surgical team and that the bill represents a positive step forward in increasing patient safety and ensuring that high-quality health care is delivered in New Jersey.  However, Christie expressed concern that, as drafted, the bill would limit the pool of candidates eligible for employment as a surgical technologist to only those who possess a specific credential.   Christie recommended revising the bill to eliminate this limitation.

A conditional veto allows the governor to recommend amendments to the legislature.  Under Christie’s proposal, in order to be eligible for employment, surgical technologists would need to have either (a) completed a nationally or regionally accredited educational program for surgical technologists, or (b) hold and maintain a certified surgical technologist credential administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting or another nationally recognized credentialing organization.

The legislature has until January 15, 2012 to act on this bill or the bill dies.  AORN was supportive of the certification and education aspects of this bill but had asked Governor Christie’s office for an amendment naming the New Jersey Board of Nursing as the regulatory agency responsible for implementing and enforcing the bill.  AORN will continue to work with our legislative State Coordinator and our lobbying firm in hopes of accomplishing AORN’s purpose of achieving education and certification requirements for surgical technologists while at the same time preserving the supervisory role of nursing over delegated nursing functions in the operating room.

“Our continued hope in New Jersey is that we can work collaboratively with the surgical technologists and interested stakeholders to assure patient safety in New Jersey health care facilities,” commented Dianna McCorkle, BSN RN CNOR, AORN State Legislative Coordinator for New Jersey.  “We support education and certification requirements for surgical technologists and would like to work with our health care colleagues in the state to include nursing supervision language in this bill in accordance with AORN policy.”

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