Editor’s Note: Toni Inglis, MSN, RN, CNS, FAAN, writes opinion for the Austin (TX) American-Statesman. She works at the Seton Healthcare Family in Austin as a neonatal ICU staff nurse and also writes a nursing blog for Seton and edits its monthly NursingNews. This article is a reprint of an April 22nd commentary in the Statesman. Toni was inspired to write the column after a particularly disappointing legislative session, in which Texas advanced practice nurses made fewer gains than in past sessions—despite Texas ranking last in access to health care and having the most restrictive laws in the country regarding APRN scope of practice and prescriptive authority. She believes the poor access and barriers to practice are related.
AJN finds the article particularly relevant as legislatures across the country deliberate on APRN barriers to practice. You can read her commentaries at ingliscommentary.com.
Here’s an idea that wouldn’t cost Texas a dime but would save millions of dollars every year: Remove all barriers restraining nurses from practicing to the full extent of their education and training.
No state needs primary care providers more than Texas, which has a severe shortage. Texas ranks last in access to health care and in the percentage of residents without health insurance. Of Texas’ 254 counties, 188 are designated by the federal government as having acute shortages of primary care physicians. Of that number, 16 counties have one and 23 have zero.
If every nurse practitioner and family doctor were deployed, we still couldn’t meet the need. Texans are desperate for health care.
Doing the math and to help meet the need, the Legislative Budget Board recommended autonomous practice of advanced practice nurses after a preceptorship.
In Texas, our legislature — session after session — keeps the most restrictive laws in the country. Nurse practitioners don’t want to perform brain surgery. They just want to provide primary care and are quick to refer cases to a doctor when necessary.
Most states with far less need do not legislate practice barriers to nurse practitioners. Given the severity of our problem, shouldn’t we at least bring ourselves in line with those other states? Read the rest of this entry ?