Nurse Practitioners Are Primed to Help Bridge Physician Shortage

This month, New York and Kansas joined the list of 24 states, plus the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories, with full practice authority legislation (FPA) that empowers nurse practitioners to provide the complete scope of services for which they were trained.

“New York has taken a critical step forward in our country, increasing access to vital health care services,” said April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP- BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, President of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), in a news release. “New Yorkers will now have full and direct access to the comprehensive care NPs provide.”

The Kansas legislation was signed just days after New York’s and was met with equal excitement. Gov. Laura Kelly signed House Bill 2279 into law making Kansas the second state in 2022 and the 26th state in the nation to adopt FPA legislation.

“This is a major milestone in health care for Kansas and for our nation,” said Kapu in a news release.

In August of 2021, Delaware Governor John Carney signed legislation that grant’s the state’s nurse practitioners full practice authority (FPA), making Delaware became the 24th state to adopt FPA legislation — and not a moment too soon.

The physician shortage is real and growing and NPs can help fill the gap. An analysis conducted in June 2019 by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) confirmed this fact with metrics that projected a shortfall of up to 139,000 physicians by the year 2033.

A good percentage of the predicted and worsening physician shortage lies in primary care – with AAMC’s data suggesting it could reach just over 55,000. In specialties, the numbers are even higher – with a predicted potential shortfall of specialty physicians of nearly 87,000.

A solution to the physician shortage is direct access to nurse practitioner-provided health care, said Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP, Immediate Past-President of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).

“One of the most important challenges facing patients and states is the accessibility of healthcare providers — especially providers who serve in primary care and across the continuum of care,” she said.

Full Practice Authority Supported by Evidence

“In states with FPA, NPs are authorized to evaluate patients, diagnose, order, and interpret diagnostic tests and initiate and manage treatments — including prescribing medications — under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing,” said Thomas.

This licensure model is supported by decades of evidence and recommended by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the IOM), and other leading health policy experts, she said.

Not all states have authorized FPA for their NPs. Many states maintain barriers to NP-delivered health care, she said.

“Unfortunately, in the remaining states, outdated licensure laws impede access to care and contribute to increased healthcare costs,” Thomas said. “The AANP is committed to working with states to update their licensure laws and provide patients with direct access to NPs.”

Out of the remaining states that maintain …read more

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