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Nurses pursue independence from physician supervision

Across the country, advanced practice nursing groups are advocating for legislation allowing them to practice without a doctor’s supervision. The proposed legislation, nurses say, would be a step toward more autonomy in roles they already hold and a better opportunity to practice to the full extent of their education and training.

Now, nursing groups, social workers, health policy experts and organizations like the Institute of Medicine and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) are joining to push for change.

The legislation is currently working its way through 11 different states.

If passed, patients could see nurses with an advanced practice graduate degrees – including nurse practitioners, nurse midwifes, nurse anesthetists, or clinical nurse specialists – ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, prescribing medications and administering treatments without physician supervision. Instead, they would collaborate with or refer patients to a physician when warranted by the patient’s condition.

Mary Chesney, Ph.D., R.N., C.N.P., director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program in the School of Nursing, spoke with Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) earlier this week on the issue.

Along with Angela Golden, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Chesney stressed that advanced practice nurses already handle a lot of critical duties.

“I think what’s important for the public to know is that every day, advanced practice registered nurses are making those decisions — deciding on drugs, the dosages, what they’re going to do,” Chesney told MPR. “And that part of the practice is not supervised.”

The legislation, which places the sole responsibility for regulating advanced nursing practice under the Board of Nursing instead of physicians, faces opposition from some physician and medical professional groups who cite safety as an issue. But, as Golden points out, 16 states already allow nurses to practice without supervision and safety has not been a concern thus far. Chesney adds that many physicians are also supportive of the legislation.

What do you think? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below or check out the full MPR piece here.


Note: This post was last updated Thursday, March 28, 2013.

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