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States seek to expand NP role

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Twenty-eight states, including Mississippi and Alabama, are considering expanding the role of nurse practitioners, a move inspired by the healthcare reform bill and a looming shortage of primary care providers.

To some, NPs are the obvious solution to the coming storm:  increasing numbers of Americans seeking care during a national shortage of primary care providers.  NPs are trained primary care providers, but many state laws restrict their practice.  In Florida, for example, NPs are unable to prescribe narcotics, while NPs in Montana are free to practice without physician oversight.  Removing the barriers to NP practice is seen as one way to meet the public’s need for primary healthcare.

Physician groups, though, are fighting the move, citing vast differences in education and experience.  Many physicians believe that NPs lack sufficient hours of education to practice independently.  They argue that physician supervision of NPs is necessary for safe patient care.

What do you think?  Should NPs be allowed to practice without physician oversight?  Should they be allowed to prescribe narcotics?

Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN
Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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