Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice: Arizona

Arizona tops my domestic travel destination wish list. My dream vacation would include a few days of white water rafting down the Grand Canyon followed by some R&R at a desert spa. Not only does Arizona have a lot to offer tourists like me, the state is also a dream destination for nurse practitioners. When it comes to scope of practice laws regulating nurse practitioners, Arizona is among the most progressive states. Let’s take a look at the legal landscape for NPs practicing in The Copper State.

Arizona’s Nurse Practitioner Supervision Laws

Arizona does not require nurse practitioners to be supervised by, or collaborate with, a physician. Rather, NPs in Arizona are free to practice independently. Within this legal standing, the Arizona Nurse Practice Act does give nurse practitioners some guidelines.

While NPs may practice without supervision, Arizona State Law requires nurse practitioners to refer patients falling outside of the NP’s knowledge and experience to a physician or another healthcare provider. Or, the NP may consult with another provider regarding the patient in question.

Additionally, the Arizona Board of Nursing specifies that nurse practitioners are only to practice in their area of certification, they should not “exceed the limits” of their advanced practice specialty area. Furthermore, nurse practitioners “shall only provide health care services including prescribing and dispensing within the NP’s population focus and role for which the NP is educationally prepared”. Educational preparation includes academic coursework or continuing education including theory and supervised practice in the specialty area.

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Arizona’s Nurse Practitioner Prescribing Laws

Similar to supervision laws, nurse practitioners practicing in Arizona may prescribe without physician collaboration or supervision. In order to prescribe, NPs must first apply for prescribing authority from the Arizona Board of Nursing. This includes completion of 45 hours of education in pharmacology or drug therapy in the three years preceding the application. Then, the nurse practitioner must apply for a DEA number if he/she wishes to prescribe controlled substances. Once prescribing authority is granted, it can only be used in Arizona, NPs cannot prescribe in other states.

While nurse practitioners have the freedom to prescribe without supervision, Arizona Law includes many prescribing regulations. These regulations include:

  • NPs may prescribe but may not include refills on prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances
  • For Schedule III or IV medications, NPs may prescribe a maximum of five refills in six months
  • Prescriptions for Schedule V drugs may include refills for up to one year

All prescriptions must include the nurse practitioner’s name, address, phone number, population focus, and date.

In Arizona, nurse practitioners are prohibited from prescribing controlled substances to themselves or family members. Prescribing must occur within a professional relationship in which the NP has examined the patient with a few exemptions, for example in emergency situations. Nurse practitioners practicing in Arizona are allowed to dispense medication samples.

Arizona is one of many states that recognizes the value of nurse practitioners to the healthcare system, and in doing so has allowed NPs freedom in their practice.


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