Nurse practitioners (NPs) in Kentucky can prescribe routine medications without a doctor's involvement starting tomorrow--if they completed a four-year collaboration with a doctor, Kaiser Health News reported.
The law also sets up a six-member committee to create a list of doctors willing to oversee NPs. If the NP can't find a doctor to collaborate with, the committee must furnish a physician for them. After four years, the NPs don't need an agreement to prescribe most medicine, KHN reported.
The move could be crucial in the wake of more Americans gaining coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the primary care physician shortage and the high number of rural areas on Kentucky, according to the article. It could also serve as a model for other states debating scope of practice laws and looking to define the role of the NP, by allowing experienced NPs more flexibility and giving those without a four-year collaboration time to find a physician willing to oversee their work.
Some advocates for NPs say the four-year collaborative agreement is a step toward affirming independent practice, according to the article, while others say the collaboration requirement is still an unnecessary burden, and is still a barrier in NPs' practices.
Currently, 19 states require NPs to have a collaborative arrangement for the entirety of their careers, and 12 others require supervision or team management with a physician, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). In the remaining 19 states and the District of Columbia, nurse practitioners practice independently of a physician.