Nurse practitioners in Delaware now have full practice authority, a legislative move the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) said will amount to better patient access to care, the organization said in a statement.
The change comes with the passage of House Bill 141, Act to Amend Title 24 of the Delaware Code Relating to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. The bill, which has now been signed into law by Delaware Governor John Carney, allows full practice authority for nurse practitioners, meaning NPs do not need sign off from an authorizing physician to provide certain types of care.
In doing so, AANP said patients in Delaware will see broader access to care, more provider choice, and ideally a closing of health disparities. That is because nurse practitioners can now serve as another landing point for patients in need of certain types of medical care.
“As our state contends with a heightened need for health care, this law represents a necessary and positive step toward removing roadblocks that impede equitable access to high-quality health care,” Sharon Baptiste-Brown, MSN, APRN-BC, GNP, AANP Delaware State Representative, said in a public statement.
According to Baptiste-Brown, the law may also attract more nurse practitioners to serve in Delaware, helping to close any clinician shortage issues the state may be facing. In the wake of the novel coronavirus, and the Delta variant surging at the time the law was passed, ensuring an adequate healthcare workforce will be critical to meeting all patient needs.
“Today, we commend the state legislature and Governor Carney for prioritizing the health of patients and recognizing the vital contributions NPs make to improving health and eliminating disparities in health care delivery,” Baptiste-Brown explained. “This law will increase Delaware’s ability to meet the current needs of patients and it will increase future capacity by attracting NPs to the state.”
AANP President April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, added that this move should also improve the experience of care for patients. After all, nurses and nurse practitioners usually yield high patient satisfaction. And with the expanded scope of practice, Kapu said more patients will be able to access care in a more streamlined fashion.
“Delaware is the second state this year to enact FPA legislation and enlist NPs as key partners in addressing unprecedented health needs and persistent disparities in health care access and outcomes,” Kapu said in the statement.
“States with FPA demonstrate a proven track record for increasing accessibility and patient satisfaction, while maintaining excellent care quality and outcomes,” Kapu added. “We are encouraged to see other states looking to modernize their laws, eliminate health care disparities and increase health care access and choice for patients by fully engaging the NP workforce.”
This move comes amid a long fight for full practice authority on the part of AANP. Even before the pandemic’s outbreak, AANP has asserted that nurse practitioners are essential for filling in critical patient care access gaps by bolstering the medical workforce.
In 2018, the United Health Group reported that nurse practitioners and physician assistants could reduce the primary care provider shortage by some 70 percent so long as they see full practice authority. That could go a long way considering the number of states already suffering from a primary care provider shortage. At the time of the UHG report, 13 states had a primary care provider shortage.
But NPs and PAs have faced some pushback, most prominently from the American Medical Association. AMA has asserted that although team-based care is among the best approaches to medicine, those care teams need to be led by a physician. More specifically, AMA has noted the education and clinical experience differential between MDs and NPs.
“All health care professionals play a critical role in providing care to patients; however, their skillsets are not interchangeable with that of fully trained physicians,” AMA and the Medical Association of Georgia wrote in a letter to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp nearly a year ago when Georgia’s legislature had passed language allowing for expanded practice authority.
“While nurse practitioners are valuable members of the health care team, with only two to three years of education, no residency requirement and approximately 500-720 hours of clinical training, they are not trained to practice independently.”
Physicians are required to complete four years of medical school, as well as between three and seven years of residency training and between 10,000 and 16,000 hours of clinical training.
To be clear, APRNs usually have to have completed a four-year bachelor’s program to become a registered nurse before applying for a two- or three-year advanced degree, totaling to between six and seven years of education. According to AANP, NPs receive more than six years of education and must complete national board certification and state NP licensure.
Source – https://patientengagementhit.com/news/de-nurse-practitioner-law-may-boost-patient-access-to-care