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School of Nursing encourages comment on VA's proposed APRN practice amendment

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Melva Robertson

The national movement to remove scope-of-practice barriers on advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) gained momentum with a recent proposed amendment to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) medical regulations. The nation's largest health-care provider issued a proposed rule that would provide Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) full practice authority or the ability to practice to the full extent of their education, training and certification within the agency’s more than 1,700 hospitals, clinics and veterans centers nationwide – despite current state regulations. Scope of practice laws and regulations vary widely by state and define what services APRNs licensed in the state may provide. 

According to a recent report by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, scope of practice laws and regulations in 21 states currently allow APRNs to fully practice under their license with oversight by the state board of nursing. Nineteen states have at least some restrictions on the care nurses may provide under their license, and 12 states, including Georgia, restrict APRN practice altogether, requiring full supervision by a physician. 

“APRNs will play an essential role in improving access to safe, reliable and affordable care, for millions of new patients in a health care system already challenged by a growing aging population, increasing outpatient and chronic care demands, and provider shortages,” says Linda McCauley, dean, PhD, RN and professor, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “The VA’s leadership on this important issue will, hopefully, inspire more states and health organizations to empower advanced practice nurses with the full-practice authority of their license and education.”

Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing faculty have been active at the national level to address many practice and quality of care concerns, such as full practice authority for APRNs. Suzanne Staebler, DNP, a professor in the School of Nursing and a fellow in the Georgia Health Policy Center, said the proposed change is reflective of what can be achieved when nurses and stakeholders speak with a collective voice. 

“Nurses have traditionally not been at the table having discussions with those in control of policy and funding,” says Staebler. “If we as nurses fully engage in the system, we could completely change the face of health care in this nation.” 

The proposed rule is available for public comment through July 25, 2016 in the Federal Register. To review the proposal in its entirety, click here

The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing supports nurses and VA partners nationwide and encourages all stakeholders to submit statements on this proposed rule during the 60-day public comment period. 

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