I attended a seminar last month where nurse practitioner ‘independence’ was a core topics of conversation. During a break one of my former NP program classmates and I hit the local taco shop for a quick lunch. Sitting at the table over heaping bowls of chips and guac, she casually dipped a chip and asked “Do you really care about all this independent practice stuff?”. “I really don’t”, she admitted. Her admission was interesting to me as someone who has written a lot about the topic. Her comment left me wondering how many nurse practitioners feel the same.

I have to admit, back in my days of early practice, trying to make it day to day as a new grad, I could have cared less about the politics behind my ability to practice. My aspirations lie in getting a few years of experience under my belt so I could become an eligible applicant for a position working in the emergency department. Tennessee, while not the most friendly of states when it comes to nurse practitioner practice, isn’t all that bad. A physician must sign a small percentage of my charts. But, this really didn’t affect my work as my clinic always had an MD on site. My employer made sure state requirements regarding collaboration were met on my behalf.

Then, I started ThriveAP and in doing so became increasingly active in the nurse practitioner community, especially online. One topic, which I originally strayed from addressing, was the ability of nurse practitioners to practice to their full abilities. The beginnings of a blog, combined with my increasing confidence in my practice, made me start to care about the issue. While my current position in the emergency department would not be changed by progressive state laws regarding nurse practitioners, I can see a situation where I would one day be affected. Perhaps in coming years I will decide to own my own practice. Then, I would be heavily affected by scope of practice issues.

As I become more ingrained in my city’s nurse practitioner community, I can also see my colleagues affected by restrictive NP scope of practice laws. Nurse practitioners I work with who have ventured out on their own compensate physicians to comply with legal regulations. The arrangement is less than ideal. It affects the bottom-line of their practice with little or no value.

I’m not politically active. I hate to debate. I’m usually one to go with the status quo. So, I can see why many nurse practitioners are indifferent when it comes to the scope of practice issue. However, I care increasingly more with each passing year as I see how nurse practitioners benefit our healthcare system. I now personally witness scope of practice laws hindering my perfectly capable colleagues. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not lobbying congress. But, I am increasingly taking note of the issue. Are you?

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Do you care about nurse practitioner scope of practice laws? Or, are you indifferent? How do these laws affect you personally?


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