Nurse Practitioners Granted Full Practice Authority in Utah

4 Min Read Published March 24, 2023
Nurse Practitioners Granted Full Practice Authority in Utah

In a major stride for Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Utah just became the 27th state in the country to pass legislation allowing NPs to work as fully independent primary care practitioners. Called “Full Practice Authority,” the law allows NPs to work without some of the restrictions other states require, such as not being able to prescribe a full scope of medications or requiring supervision from a physician. 

The Utah Bill SB0036 “removes requirements a licensed advanced practice registered nurse is required to meet before prescribing or administering a Schedule II controlled substance.” The bill also removed prior restrictions that required NPs to work only under the supervision of a physician. 

Utah Governor ​​Spencer Cox signed Senate Bill 36 into law in a bipartisan move. Along with the changes to NP’s practice authority, the bill also updated licensure laws for other professions as well, such as for radiology and some pharmacy requirements. 

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Why the Bill Was Signed

Forbes points out that the bill was signed into law in state and country-wide efforts to address severe primary care shortages, an ever-aging population with more healthcare needs, and many healthcare professionals suffering from the burnout that affects their ability to deliver care or sees them limiting hours or leaving the profession completely. 

The law could also help attract new NPs to the state, knowing that they can practice with full authority, open their own practices, and not be forced to follow some of the restrictions that other states have. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) released a press release on the new full practice authority for NPs, noting that the law would better increase health access in the state and calling former laws “outdated.” 

“We applaud Utah for recognizing the need to update laws and make the most of their health care workforce,” AANP President April Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN in the press release. “In the last two and a half years, four other states have taken similar action. These changes will help Utah attract and retain nurse practitioners, and provide patients access to high-quality care. We thank Governor Cox and the legislature for prioritizing patients and taking action to improve health care in the Beehive State.”

"Utah joins an expanding list of states acting to retire outdated laws that have needlessly constrained their health care workforce and limited patient access to care,” added Jon Fanning, MS, CAE, CNED, chief executive officer of AANP in the same release. “Modernizing licensure laws is a no-cost, no-delay solution to strengthening the health of the nation. Decades of research show that states with Full Practice Authority are better positioned to improve access to care, grow their workforce and address health care disparities, while delivering quality health outcomes for patients. We look forward to more states following suit.”

What the Bill Does

According to the AANP, giving NPs in Utah Full-Practice Authority allows NPs in the state to fully and independently evaluate patients, diagnose, order, and interpret diagnostic tests, as well as initiate and manage treatments under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing. NPs can carry out all of these tasks without supervision from a physician. 

NPs can work anywhere from independent clinics to medical practice offices to hospitals. Forbes also points out NPs may be especially crucial as healthcare expands to more on-demand care offered by places like urgent care clinics, telemedicine, and even Amazon’s new healthcare venture that is just launching. 

There is also a high demand for cosmetic and aesthetic services in Utah, with many NPs running med spas and offering services such as Botox, fillers, and medical skin and body procedures and care. Currently, even in some states where NPs have full practice authority, physicians are still required to legally own med spas. So, rules may differ based on business laws and other restrictions, but granting Utah NPs full practice authority could also be one that paves the way for NPs to run independent med spas on their own. 

The AANP also adds that bills such as this one are important because the over 335,000 licensed NPs in the U.S. can provide high-quality, lower-cost care, especially in areas of primary care and rural living areas. For instance, the AANP notes that NPs provide healthcare to over 1 billion patients every year, with millions of Americans choosing NPs as their primary care providers. 

“NPs bring a comprehensive perspective to high-quality health care that patients trust,” the AANP states

Utah NPs Celebrate

Nurses like Deanna Fulcher, who according to her Facebook profile is currently an NP student in Utah, are celebrating the change in their state. 

“Utah is MOVING TO GREEN!!,” Fulcher wrote on Facebook, referring to the color-coding of restrictions in the U.S., with “green” representing no restrictions and full practice authority. “You may not know, because it doesn’t pertain to you directly, but Nurse Practitioners in Utah have been under a REDUCED level of practice for many years, even though EVERY surrounding state has unrestricted practice for NPs. That changed this week with redaction of the restrictive language (shown in pic). NPs can now have full prescriptive rights and unsupervised practice. This will allow for better healthcare access to people in Utah,” she added. 

The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners also applauded the news on 

And of course, the AANP fully lauded the move on their own Facebook as well, writing: “Thank you to Gov. Cox and Utah legislators for bringing patients in the state full and direct access to NPs.”

Chaunie Brusie
Chaunie Brusie Contributor

Chaunie Brusie, BSN, RN is a nurse-turned-writer with experience in critical care, long-term care, and labor and delivery. Her work has appeared everywhere from Glamor to The New York Times to The Washington Post. Chaunie lives with her husband and five kids in the middle of a hay field in Michigan and you can find more of her work here

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