Nurse practitioners living in states with restrictive scope of practice guidelines understand how difficult these laws can make finding a job. Strict scope of practice guidelines limit nurse practitioners’ utility in a medical practice negatively affecting the value they provide to an employer. This lowers NP salaries and creates a tough market for job-seeking NPs. Fortunately, the tide is turning in some states. Next month, finding a job as a nurse practitioner in Colorado will get easier.
Colorado’s most limiting scope of practice laws relate to prescribing. For years, the state required nurse practitioners to jump through 3,600 hours worth of hoops before being granted full ability to prescribe medications. Nurse practitioners were required to secure a physician preceptor willing to oversee their practice including the completion of an 1,800 hour preceptorship and an 1,800 hour mentorship before full prescriptive authority was awarded.
The 3,600 hour preceptorship and mentorship requirement left nurse practitioners new to the profession struggling to find jobs in Colorado. Positions advertised for NPs with “Full Prescriptive Authority” as few practices were willing to stick out two years with an NP having limited prescribing abilities.
Fortunately, the tide is turning in Colorado. This spring, Senate Bill 197 passed unanimously in the Colorado House of Representatives. While the bill isn’t perfect, it means significant changes for nurse practitioners working in Colorado. The bill eliminates the 1,800 hour preceptorship requirement completely and reduces the mentorship requirement from 1,800 to 1,000 hours. New nurse practitioners in Colorado are now faced with practicing a total of 1,000 hours with restricted prescribing abilities rather than the prior 3,600 hours. The bill also allows for mentorship hours to be supervised by an advanced practice nurse rather than a physician.
These revised requirements surrounding nurse practitioners and full prescriptive authority are a welcome change for less experienced NPs looking for work in Colorado. The ability to prescribe after 6 months of full-time employment rather than the prior approximate 18 month timeframe is an easier barrier to overcome. Increased options when it comes to mentorship by either an advanced practice nurse or physician make it more convenient for employers to comply with state scope of practice guidelines. Ultimately, these adjustments encourage the hiring of more NPs.
Senate Bill 197 takes effect September 1, 2015. Expect positive advances in Colorado’s nurse practitioner job market to follow.
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