Nurse practitioners fire first shots in latest battle to achieve independent practice

Tags: news, nurse practitioner, primary care, scope of practice, advocacy

Nurse practitioners fire first shots in latest battle to achieve independent practice

posted 05.27.10

Nurse practitioners say they know how to solve Texas’ shortage of primary care physicians: give advanced practice nurses the authority to diagnose and prescribe without physician supervision. And they’re telling anyone who’ll listen.

A story in the Texas Tribune last week is just one of several recent articles describing the coming battle over scope of practice that is certain to occupy much of TAFP’s advocacy efforts during next year’s 82nd Texas Legislature. The Tribune article pits several claims by nurse practitioner organizations against the position of TAFP and the Texas Medical Association that in the interest of patient safety and the delivery of high-quality medical care, state regulations should continue to foster the collaborative model of care in which physicians delegate authority to mid-level providers.

In the story, Lynda Woolbert, executive director of the Coalition for Nurses in Advanced Practice, argues that lawmakers should grant independent practice to nurse practitioners to help address the shortage of primary care physicians, particularly in rural areas. “Patients need help managing chronic illnesses; they need well-child exams — all things that aren’t physicians’ strongest suits.”

The CBS TV news affiliate in Austin ran a similar story in the evening news this week, and an Associated Press story last month listed Texas as one of 28 states considering the expansion of nurse practitioners’ scope of practice.

“This is the first, in what will be a long, sustained effort by the nurse practitioners to achieve the independent practice of medicine,” said TAFP CEO Tom Banning.

As the Academy prepares for the upcoming legislative session, your support and your input is needed to help explain the differences between family physicians and nurse practitioners in their medical knowledge, their qualifications to treat patients, their educational requirements, and the quality of care they deliver. Please send TAFP your thoughts and any examples from your practice that could help illustrate these differences. Send e-mails to Jonathan Nelson, TAFP Director of Communications, at

AAFP has a set of resources for addressing mid-level provider issues in the practice management section of