Valley graduate helps craft law to fast-track licenses for vocational nurses

FRESNO, Calif.

Nursing grad Danielle Mendoza of Clovis took her frustrations with the state licensing board to Representative Jim Patterson. She worked with the legislator to draft a bill signed by the governor.

When Mendoza graduated from the nursing program at Clovis Adult School after studying for three years she felt triumphant.

"I said all the sacrifices of being a single mom and working fulltime and going to school fulltime is finally going to pay off," Mendoza said.

Instead she found herself jumping through bureaucratic hoops just to get her license from the state board of vocational nursing to start work. Mendoza said she couldn't even apply for her license until after she got the results from her exams.

"They say it takes four weeks, but in reality it took about three months, because they're so backed up with the paperwork and the budget cuts and the staffing and that kind of thing," Mendoza said.

Frustrated and discouraged Mendoza's mom encouraged her to reach out to Patterson for help.

"We're elected to represent and understand the concerns of the people and she was so eloquent and so compelling and so we just said, what you would do if you were me and so these nurses and candidates helped us craft this legislation," Pattrson said.

Together the two worked to introduce Assembly Bill 1028, which fast-tracks licenses for vocational nurses. It was unanimously passed and signed into law by the governor. And now speeds up the process by allowing graduates to get an interim work permit while they wait for their license. A process schools say used to take up to six months.

"To see someone at the state level say we need to cut through this so these people can have jobs is a great thing. So I'm thankful for the student and I'm thankful for Jim Patterson for what's going on with this law," Clovis Adult School Kevin Cookingham said.

Mendoza also learned an important lesson. Sometimes the best ideas for a bill originate out of real-life problems. Problems people like herself face every day and not from special interests in Sacramento.

"A lot of people have the stance they're not going to vote or speak up because what's one person going to do, well I'm personally an example," Danielle Mendoza said.

Patterson is also celebrating because he says this is his first bill to be signed into law by the governor. He believes it will also address the nursing shortage in the Valley by allowing qualified graduates to fill open positions a lot sooner.

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