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?

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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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3 Responses to States seek to expand NP role

  1. Antonio

    Yes, after 5 years of collaborating with a MD.

  2. Janine

    We all have the same training and the same education, there is no reason for us not to have the same privileges. In general NPs welcome collaboration with physicians and other members of the health care team. Physicians add another unique perspective to the discussion. What I object to is an advance practice nurse being supervised by a physician when we are doing different jobs.

  3. I agree that NPs should have the right to practice to their full abilities. However, I disagree with the comment that we all have the same training and education because we do not. Doctors are trained for a longer length of time and they receive much more comprehensive training in anatomy and physiology, chemistry etc., and have many more hours of clinicals under their belts. Nurse practitioners are nurses first. We are not going to change that fact. We do however, provide comparable care and dare I say it.. better care than some doctors. I think that we will continue to collaborate with doctors even if we get the restrictions changed in the states to practice independently. Doctors collaborate with each other too. We need to stop the turf wars and start taking care of the patients. I just want the tools to do the job and not having prescribing abilities for controls are inhibiting me in Florida.