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Direct Access to VA Patients Granted to VA Nurse Practitioners



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Direct Access to VA Patients Granted to VA Nurse Practitioners written for USMilitary.com, Atlanta GA

A big win for United States nurse practitioners was announced recently as the Department of Veterans Affairs has granted nurse practitioners direct access to veteran patients. The number of nurse practitioners in the US has nearly doubled over the past 10 years and expanding their access to patients is a big win for nursing.

VA Repairing Reputation

The VA has become known for mismanagement causing veterans in need of treatments and primary care services to wait days, weeks or even months. While this has become an unacceptable state of affairs for the VA, the move to allow nurse practitioners to treat patients without physician supervision is expected to help repair the issue.

By granting full practice authority on a national level, veterans will receive the necessary treatments and services quicker, especially in underserved areas. Wait times are expected to be shorter for patients in areas with shortages of physicians once the new rule goes into effect on January 13, 2017.

Military Nurses Given Full Practice Authority

Three types of military nurse practitioners will be permitted full practice authority within VA facilities across the United States. The three roles all fall under the APRN or advance practice register nurse classification. Certified registered nurse anesthetists will not be covered over the new provision. However, the following three classifications will now be able to treat patients without doctor supervision:

• CNP – Certified Nurse Practitioners
• CNS – Clinical Nurse Specialist

• CNM – Certified Nurse-Midwife

While 21 states and the District of Columbia already give full practice authority at VA facilities, this new provision will grant full practice authority to all nurse practitioners falling under these three titles. There are more than 5,000 nurse practitioners across all the VA facilities. They will be able to do more without supervision now, including ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, managing treatment plans, prescribing medication, providing clinical assessments and more.

How Military Nurses Came About

Over the past year, nurse practitioners have aggressively campaigned for this new provision. They have advocated their profession as a large part of the solution to the current issues with veteran treatment and care. With nurse practitioners gaining more access to patients across other facilities, such as hospitals, doctor’s offices and retail clinics, such as Walgreens, CVS Health and Walmart, this move has been pushed by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners for quite some time now.

It’s expected the support from the public will show up during the public comment period for this new rule, which will be open for about one month before it goes into effect. This is also considered a big step forward for the United States Veterans and is expected to allow for higher quality of care throughout the Veterans Health System. No longer with NPs have to work under a “collaborative agreement” with a doctor. With full practice authority, NPs will have direct access to patients and more veterans can be treated with shorter wait times across all VA facilities in the United States.

Sources

• Nurse Practitioners Win Direct Access To VA Patients
• Nurse Practitioners to Treat Vets Without Doctor Supervision

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