The training of prospective nurse practitioners (NPs) equips them with the skill of assessing, diagnosing, ordering, and interpreting medical tests, as well as prescribing medications. The practice of an NP however has barriers that stop them from reaching the full potential of their profession. These barriers are what we refer to as the limitations of practice. The barriers are legislation against the full practice policy of NPs.
Depending on the state, an NP may be allowed to practice independently (full practice authority), or be subjected to reduced practice or restricted practice policy. In Virginia, a bill was passed in 2018 that allows NPs to practice independently (full practice authority) provided they have an equivalent of five years of full-time practice experience with a collaborating physician.
With the shortage of physicians relative to the population of people in the U.S, NPs are supposed to shift the scale towards balance by delivering quality care to the public, hence filling the gap created by the shortage. NPs were trained to provide quality healthcare to the public and they should be allowed to do so without a physician’s supervision. This will increase access to quality and cost-effective healthcare, especially in underserved regions.
The reduced practice limits the scope of practice of an NP without supervision, and restricted practice requires supervision of an NP by a physician. Neither of these policies will help bridge the gap between healthcare access and the public. Only full practice authority which allows the independent practice of an NP can solve that problem. The importance of adopting this policy cannot be overemphasized and the fight to adopt full practice authority in all states must not stop. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners is an organization that fights for the cause, and you can help by joining the fight to ensure the public gets what it deserves regarding access to healthcare.