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Educating Elected Officials About Advanced Practice Nursing

The groundbreaking 2010 Institute of Medicine Report (IOM) titled, “The Future of Nursing Leading Change, Advancing Health” recommends building professional alliances by establishing relationships with existing policy makers including legislators from both major political parties at the local and state level. This call to action can be realized. The Charleston area will have a primary election for the 1st Congressional District on March 19, 2013. Now is the time for nurses to contact legislators and potential legislators to inform them of the issues that affect the nursing profession and the patients that we serve. People not living in this district, may find this information helpful when contacting other elected officials to discuss the role advanced practice nurses can play in transforming health care.

Dean Gail Stuart has compiled a list of bullet points that can be used when speaking to legislators or potential legislators.

  • S.C. and the nation are in crisis as we face a critical shortage of primary health care providers.
  • S.C. ranks a tragic 45th in the nation in the United Health Foundation’s health report card.
  • Parts or all of 46 counties in S.C. are designated as medically underserved by the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
  • If nurse practitioners were allowed to practice without barriers they could fan out into these counties and provide greater access to care for people in these communities.
  • The American Association of Medical Colleges Center for Workforce Studies predicts that there will be a shortage of about 63,000 physicians by 2015, and
    130,600 by 2025.
  • Enrollment in nurse practitioner programs is growing each year across every state in the nation.
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) stand ready and able to meet the critical need to increase access to high quality and safe health care for our states’ population.
  • The prestigious Institute of Medicine has recommended that nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.
  • There is overwhelming research evidence that shows that in primary care, nurse practitioners have demonstrated an effectiveness equal to that of physicians with high patient satisfaction.
  • Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have removed barriers and allow APRNs to practice to the full extent of their education and training.
  • Those states that have removed APRN barriers to practice have better health outcomes than S.C.
  • In states where practice barriers have been removed, approximately 50 percent of nurse practitioners choose to work in rural areas.
  • In those states where practice barriers have been removed, physicians’ incomes have not been decreased or compromised by allowing nurses full scope of practice.
  • In S.C., APRNs must practice within 45 miles of a physician. No other state has such a mileage regulation. This regulation makes it impossible for APRNs to provide care in rural S.C. communities. 
  • If all health care providers worked to their fullest they still would not be able to meet all of the health care needs in this country.
  • The compelling question is – why restrict the practice of any clinician who is able to provide much needed health care?

What needs to be done?

  1. Legislative regulations must remove barriers to nursing practice.
  2. Barriers to be removed include: removing miles rules, supervision requirements, prescriptive limitations and limitations to privileges that impede APRNs’ ability to provide care to all people in the state.

Allowing APRNs to practice to the full extent of their education is the right thing to do and NOW is the right time for change.
If you live in the First Congressional District, you are urged to realize the call to action by The Institute of Medicine and contact potential candidates to find out where they stand on scope of practice for advanced practice nursing and other issues important to both our patients and our profession. As the largest workforce in the health care industry, they need to hear from us and be educated on the issues affecting our profession.

Find contact information for your current House members at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and Senate members at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

 
 
 

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