Nurse practitioners are among the most dynamic healthcare professionals in the field. Not only are they valuable members of the healthcare community, they also regularly step in to fill talent shortages in other areas when they are needed, such as primary care.
It is undeniable that the scope of practice for nurse practitioners has been changing over the past few years, and especially in the last few months. Still, there are some limitations in place that make their position somewhat more complicated.
For example, some advanced practitioners that have equal or more training and education as their physician counterparts are unable to work without their supervision. Another expert points out that when NPs bill under a physician, their name, and subsequently, the value that they add is lost and untracked.
While there are still obstacles to overcome, matters overall seem to be moving in the right direction. Here is some insight into how the scope of practice for nurse practitioners is changing and will hopefully continue to change.
Different Scope of Practice by State
One thing that is convoluting the expansion of the practice of nurse practitioners is the fact that parameters for what they are allowed to do varies widely state by state.
According to a recently updated chart, only 22 states grant Nurse Practitioners ‘full authority practice’, meaning they are able to evaluate, diagnose, order and interpret tests, initiate treatments and prescribe prescriptions. All other states have some sort of reduced or restricted policies in place, and while most of them are not extreme, they still limit NPs from practicing to their full capacity.
Allowing NPs to practice without any complications would provide some much-needed relief to physicians and other healthcare professionals. For this reason, there are movements in place attempting to remove restrictions for NPs and other advanced practitioners. In Florida, the recently passed HB 607 granted more autonomy to advanced practitioners, while in California, Bill 890 will remove restraints on patient access to NPs, helping to supplement the state’s primary care provider shortage. These are just a few of the many steps being made in the right direction!
Changes in the Face of COVID-19
COVID-19 took a toll on just about every facet of the healthcare system, and nurse practitioners were no different. In particular, areas in which NPs had reduced or restricted scope of practice felt the strain, so some changes were promptly made.
In April, in addition to the 22 states with full practice laws, another 22 states implemented temporary relaxed restrictions so that nurse practitioners could practice without the supervision of a physician, which had inevitably been slowing down the speed of care. Whether or not these states will return to their pre-COVID rules once the outbreak calms down is yet to be seen, but the suspension of these limitations thus far has resulted in a huge positive impact on patient care.
There has also been an increase in employers asking NPs to dramatically change their working hours, their schedules, and even their clinical setting at a moment’s notice. While this isn’t an uncommon occurrence, the frequency has skyrocketed during the pandemic. The ability of NPs to adapt and adjust to constantly changing requirements only further demonstrates their value to the overall healthcare system.
NPs across the country are in agreement that an expanded scope of practice is not only necessary for battling COVID-19, but urgently needs to be granted for day-to-day patient care. According to a survey conducted by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, more than half of NPs said that the relaxed regulations were instrumental in providing patient care when it was needed the most, begging the question, ‘Why return to normal?’. There are certainly many factors at play when making such a decision, but if there is one thing that can be agreed upon, it is that nurse practitioners are a vital healthcare resource, now and always.
Are you looking for a new nurse practitioner position, or another profession under the advanced practice umbrella? Radius Staffing Solutions regularly recruits in the advanced practice field for facilities all across the country – contact us today to get started.