Few professionals enjoy the trust and respect that nurses do. They’ve earned every bit of it and deserve even more.
Why is it, then, that so many of the most educated, thoroughly trained and well-credentialed nurses aren’t allowed to use all their skills and talents to take care of patients who want and need their help? Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) have extensive post-graduate education, including at least a Master’s degree and often a doctorate of nursing practice. They have had specialized training to qualify as a certified nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, certified registered nurse anesthetist, or nurse practitioner. Yet in more than two-thirds of the states, antiquated laws prevent APRNs from practicing to the full extent of their education, training and certification.
As we celebrate National Nurses Week from May 6 to May 12, this would be a good time to focus on fixing this inequality, a top priority for AARP because consumers and family caregivers need full access to all of our clinicians.
It’s been over seven years since the Institute of Medicine issued a report calling for nurse leaders to play an expanded role to improve health care in the United States; yet, many barriers and limitations still exist.
Restrictions vary by state, but often APRNs have to wait for a physician to sign documents such as disabled parking placards, referrals for physical therapy, or death certificates. In some states, APRNs cannot write prescriptions for certain drugs – or at all. Some aren’t even allowed to refer patients to specialists.