Long Overdue: Full Practice Authority for Nurse Practitioners
Making the Case for Full Practice Authority
Expanding the scope of practice for nurse practitioners in California is supported by extensive research. This report finds three areas where increasing the scope of practice for nurse practitioners can be beneficial:
1. Expanding the scope of practice for nurse practitioners can increase access to patient care –– According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States will have a shortage of up to 122,000 physicians by 2032. This shortage will be particularly noticeable in California, where shortages of physicians are already significantly higher than shortages in other states.
Nurse practitioners can help in tackling this physician shortage, if they are allowed to practice at their full scope, especially in California.
2. While nurse practitioners and physicians fulfill different roles in the healthcare industry, previous studies have shown that increasing the scope of practice for nurse practitioners does not lower the quality of care that nurse practitioners can administer –– In many ways, physicians and nurse practitioners work in tandem to support a variety of patients across many patient settings. While increasing the scope of practice for nurse practitioners will not cancel out the demand for physicians, providing full practice authority to nurse practitioners can help maintain quality of care in the industry.
3. Granting full practice authority to nurse practitioners can also lower healthcare costs for both patients and the healthcare industry overall –– Today, each time a patient requires a medication prescription, treatment plan, or drug order in California, he or she must first be seen by a physician or wait for physician approval in order to pursue proper treatment. These countless situations where nurse practitioners in California are not able to fulfill roles that are a part of their scope of practice in other states can add costs to patients and increase visit times and frequencies. In addition to increasing patient costs, not allowing nurse practitioners to practice at their full scope adds costs onto the hospital, clinic, and industry overall––many of which are then passed down to the patient.