Is a Nurse Practitioner Allowed to Prescribe Medications?

The healthcare is developing and going beyond hospital borders and move toward the community in the recent past.

It is why there is a growing need for advance registered nurses – nurse practitioners, to help provide the best possible and accessible care for the patients.

The policymakers are interested in optimizing the field of NPs to elevate healthcare in general.

Health planners always try to balance costs without quality deterioration.

It is why the role of nurse practitioners is getting more important as they are on the front-line of many health services, such as preventive care, chronic disease treatment, and patient education about avoidance of injuries.

Prevention is highly important in terms of reducing the costs of hospitalization and care.

Some studies showed the similarities between care quality of NPs and physicians, but discrepancies in costs.

Nurse practitioners have advanced education, both theoretical and clinical, in various healthcare fields.

They provide basic care to patients of all ages, including infants and the aged population in various work settings and facilities.

Nurse practitioners also educate patients about healthy life choices and decisions that can improve their health.

Every healthcare worker, as well as nurse practitioner, operates under legal and official rules and regulations stated in the Nurse Practice Act.

Each state has its own Nurse Practice act and the content may vary from state to state.

For example, Nurse Practitioner in all states and the District of Columbia are allowed to prescribe medicaments.

However, there are differences in what they can prescribe, including medical devices and medical services.

In the majority of states and the District of Columbia, more precisely 22 states nurse practitioners operate in terms of Full Practice Authority.

It means that a nurse practitioner in those states can work independently and don’t have to be supervised by the physician.

That is why many nurse practitioners open their practices and can work on reimbursement by third parties such as Medicare.

The list of states in which is active Full Practice Authority act:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Other states that don’t follow the Full practice authority, fall under REduced practice authority regulation.

In these states, a nurse is obliged to have an agreement with supervising physicians to be able to work and practice medicaments.

Those states are:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

The states that are not on either of these lists are the Restricted Practice States.

In these states, there are more legal requirements for nurse practitioners which can include oversight, delegation, and different kind of management by other members of the healthcare team.

There is a large number of national and international organizations that fight to provide full practice authority for nurse practitioners in all states.

For example, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners – AANP has a set of recommendations that focus exactly on the independent ability to prescribe medicaments with physician supervision.

They recommend that state Nursing boards are to be responsible for regulating prescribing clearances.

Also, the AANP believes that NP should be able to prescribe medical services and devices.

However, there is a shortage in healthcare providers, so many states are going towards adjusting legal requirements to meet the requirements of the current situations.

The privileges should be gained according to education, credentials, and training.

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