NP Practice Authority Grows - March 2017 Update
By Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC
With legislative sessions currently taking place in many states around the U.S., bills related to nurse practitioners and their nursing scope of practice have been in the news.
In January, the Veterans Administration granted full practice autonomy to certified nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and certified clinical nurse specialists, but held back when it came to certified nurse anesthetists. This historic move by the VA is certainly providing fire power to NPs and their advocates around the country.
Not only does such legislation save money for nurse practitioners who no longer need to pay fees for physician supervision; states also save money by decreasing regulations that require ongoing tracking and enforcement.
Many nurse practitioners must pay significant consulting fees in order to receive mandated supervision from physicians; increased autonomy and prescriptive authority for NPs means more money in their pockets and the resulting ability to expand their practices and treat more patients.
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Here’s a roundup of the NP-related news for early March, 2017.
Oklahoma and Nurse Practitioners
On March 1st, Oklahoma House Bill 1013 passed the state House of Representatives by a wide margin of 72-20. The successful bill will allow nurse practitioners to write prescriptions without the oversight of a physician.
Although some doctors and physician groups opposed the bill’s passage, it is obvious that the momentum and projected benefits far outweighed the naysayers.
In Oklahoma, a massive shortage of primary care physicians has spurred the movement to grant NPs more autonomy in a largely rural state.
South Dakota Grants NP Autonomy
In late February, the South Dakota Legislature and Governor Dennis Daugaard enacted Senate Bill 61, which authorized nurse practitioners in that state to practice with full autonomy.
Healthcare consumers in South Dakota – another largely rural state – now enjoy increased access to preventative and primary care.
More States On the Way
The nationwide legislative grapevine is sending signals that Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and several other states are also considering loosening up restrictions on nurse practitioners.
It can now be easily predicted that we will eventually see the majority of states in the U.S. granting complete autonomy to nurse practitioners.
NPs to the Rescue
In a time of historic need for access to primary and preventative healthcare – especially in underserved rural and urban areas – it is exciting to witness the ability of NPs to fan out across the country and offer increased access to care for more Americans.
With NP autonomy being legislated in an increasing number of states, nurse practitioners are able to fill gaps in preventative care and keep Americans healthier. More NP availability also decreases the number of citizens not receiving primary care, as well as those seeking treatment for otherwise preventable conditions in emergency rooms around the country.
Welcome news is consistently hitting the presses when it comes to nurse practitioners, and the 31% projected job growth for NPs between 2017 and 2024 will only improve as NPs are able to treat more patients by exercising their autonomy, professionalism, and significant expertise.
Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice By State - March 1, 2017
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC is a Board-Certified Nurse Coach, award-winning blogger, nurse podcaster, speaker, and author. Based in Sante Fe, New Mexico, Nurse Keith’s work has appeared in a variety of online and print publications.