Here it goes again......

State lawmakers will reconsider a proposal in the new year that would require new registered nurses to earn a four year degree within 10 years to keep working in New York.

The bill is part of a national push to address a nationwide shortage in skilled nurses.

Some fear the new requirements would discourage some from getting into the field making the problem worse.

According to federal statistics only about a third of all registered nurses have bachelor's degrees. Health officials would like to boost that amount to 80 percent by 2020. A local state lawmaker is re-introducing a bill in the New York State Assembly is designed to help meet that ambitious goal.

"The data is clear that patients are better served, and we have better outcomes for patients, when we have a bachelor's level nurse,” said New York State Assemblyman Joe Morelle, D-Irondequoit.

It's called "BSN in 10" an initiative, sponsored by Morelle, that would require new registered nurses to get a four year degree 10 years from the time they are licensed if they want to continue working in New York State.

"Many, many people now are getting their bachelor's degree to become a registered nurse; anyway this really just formalizes it," Morelle said.

Morelle says the state's population is aging, and there are too few nurses trained to care for them. With hundreds of thousands of nurses expected to retire in the coming years the shortage is expected to get worse. Some fear adding educational requirements will push prospective nurses into another field.

"I don't think it would increase the shortage, in fact, I think increasing an elevating the profession as it should be appropriately raised will encourage more people to join both men and women," Morelle said.

Currently, most registered nurses have two-year associate's degrees offered through popular nursing programs at Monroe Community College and FLCC. Morelle expects those two year programs to continue to thrive as students incorporate them into a two plus two program they would complete at schools like St. John Fisher or at the University of Rochester School of Nursing.

"You get your clinical hours as well as you're getting your academic requirements. Then you can get licensed and then you can focus on over the next 10 years getting your bachelor's degree," Morelle said.

The bill cleared the assembly's higher education committee. Morelle hopes to get it through the full assembly sometime in the 2012 legislative session.

"In my view it's not a question of if this is going to happen it's a question of when."

The bill is co-sponsored in the New York State State Senate by Republican Jim Alesi. If passed, New York would become the first state to enact such a measure. Any nurse currently licensed or currently in an academic program to become licensed would not be impacted by this proposal.