States may give advanced-practice nurses wider scope

A wave of bills are working their way through state legislatures that would expand the scope of practice for advanced-practice nurses. In fact, at least 24 states are either considering such bills or expecting to see such measures filed this year, according to political researchers. The bills address a broad range of issues, including independent practice, doctor supervision, prescribing authority, or extended prescribing to include controlled substances. Many of these measures are opposed by the AMA and its state affiliates, who say they have safety concerns. But observers say such legislation likely will have some momentum, given the growing physician shortage and a growth in advanced degree programs for nurses.

These bills follow the establishment of a similar law in Pennsylvania, which expanded the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, physician assistants and dental hygienists. The new law, which was enacted in 2007, gave nurse practitioners the right to order medical equipment and refer to physical therapists and related practitioners. It also gave nurse midwives prescribing privileges that include permission to prescribe controlled substances.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this AMNews piece

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