National Nurse Practitioner Week: Empowering Nurse Practitioners for Health Equity
As we honor National Nurse Practitioner Week, policymakers and stakeholders must acknowledge the urgency of granting full practice authority to nurse practitioners nationwide.
As National Nurse Practitioner Week arrives, it's a perfect opportunity to celebrate the vital contributions of nurse practitioners (NPs) and shed light on the critical need for full practice authority in all states across the United States. Nurse practitioners are highly skilled healthcare professionals equipped with the expertise to provide a wide array of primary and specialty care services. However, some restrictive practice laws remain in several states that limit their ability to practice to the full extent of their education and training.
The absence of full practice authority for nurse practitioners significantly hinders the delivery of accessible healthcare services. These restrictions prevent NPs from autonomously prescribing medications, ordering specific diagnostic tests, and fully utilizing their skills, thereby impeding their capacity to address the growing healthcare demands of communities. As a result, it exacerbates the existing healthcare disparities, particularly in underserved areas where physician shortages prevail.
Nurse practitioners play a pivotal role in closing the gap in health disparities. Their holistic and patient-centered approach to care makes them an essential asset in delivering quality healthcare services, especially in rural and marginalized communities. By allowing nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their training, states can effectively bridge the gap in healthcare access, ensuring that individuals receive timely and comprehensive care, regardless of their geographic location or socio-economic status.
Research consistently shows that states granting full practice authority to nurse practitioners witness positive outcomes. These outcomes include improved patient satisfaction, increased access to care, and cost-effective healthcare services without compromising quality. States that have expanded NP practice authority have demonstrated enhanced healthcare delivery, which is crucial in meeting the evolving healthcare needs of our society.
As we honor National Nurse Practitioner Week, policymakers and stakeholders must acknowledge the urgency of granting full practice authority to nurse practitioners nationwide. It's time to empower these dedicated healthcare professionals fully, enabling them to maximize their contributions to the healthcare system and, in turn, advance health equity for all Americans.
Let us seize this opportunity to support legislative changes that empower nurse practitioners to provide the best possible care to all individuals, fostering a healthier, more equitable nation.
Dr. LaWanda Baskin is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner. Currently she is the Director of the School of Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice at The University of Southern Mississippi.