Supervision laws worsen care access amid doc shortage

As the Affordable Care Act increases demand for care, supervision rules won't allow nonphysician providers to fill the void left by the physician shortage, according to healthcare experts from University of Michigan School of Nursing.

Nurse advocates claim a Michigan law prevents advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) from practicing within their scope and training, further widening the effects of a physician shortage.

Therefore, they are putting their weight behind a new bill that would allow nurse practitioners to practice independently of physicians, similar to legislation that already exists in 18 states and the District of Columbia.

For instance, Colorado in June upheld a decision to allow certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA) to work without physician supervision this summer, shortly after California reaffirmed its decision to omit doc supervision.

In a testimony before the Michigan Senate Health Policy Committee, nursing advocates cited research showing nurse practitioners and nonphysician providers have the aptitude necessary to provide primary care.

"APRN education is carefully regulated through national standards for curriculum and certification examinations," U-M School of Nursing Dean Kathleen Potempa said. "In practice, they must prove their proficiency through national boards, similar to how most medical specialties are regulated."

Even with new legislation, many physician spots may go unfilled with hospitals facing more vacancies in nurse positions. In fact, job openings for nurse practitioners grew 16 percent from the first to the second quarter of this year, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

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