Articles in major dailies call for independent practice for nurse practitioners

Tags: news, independent practice, opinion, nurse practitioner

Articles in major dailies call for independent practice for nurse practitioners

posted 11.02.10

Two articles published in major newspapers last week contend that nurse practitioners should be granted independent practice in the upcoming 82nd Texas Legislature.

The first was an editorial published Sunday, Oct. 24, in the Austin American-Statesman. In “Nurse practitioners on the rise, Health care overhaul opens doors for more cost-efficient primary care providers,” American Academy of Nurse Practitioners CEO Timothy Knettler says, “Nurse practitioners can perform many of the same functions that physicians perform more cost-effectively without compromising quality of service. They provide primary, acute, and specialty care, with the majority working in primary care. Nurse practitioners are increasingly choosing primary care over specialty care.”

Knettler describes Texas’ current scope of practice regulations, which include physician oversight of prescriptive authority and diagnoses, as “the most complex in the nation.” And he describes the dire shortage of primary care physicians and other health care providers in rural and underserved areas, with a simple answer to the problem: “removing restrictive nurse practitioner practice regulations is a step in the right direction. Modernizing and simplifying Texas law for nurse practitioners who are already diagnosing and prescribing is an important part of the solution, at no additional cost to Texas.”

To read the full article, go to the Austin American-Statesman’s website,

The second article was published Monday, Oct. 25, in the San Antonio Express-News. “Nurse practitioners do much medically” by Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, praises the ability of nurse practitioners to relate to patients and presents Texas’ current scope of practice laws as a complicated “patchwork” of regulations.

The author lays out the impending scope challenge, and quotes many nursing advocates who claim equivalent training to physicians and the ability to provide more cost-effective care.

“We are taught in our education how to diagnose and prescribe,” said Alison Mitchell, a former president of Texas Nurse Practitioners, in the article. “We all take the same national certifying exam. Our pass rates in Texas are good. So why is oversight not required in the other states? What is different about Texas? It doesn’t make sense.”

The sole quote from detractors came from TMA President Susan Bailey, M.D. “All members of the medical team are incredibly important and each receives very special training for what they do.” However, “for us it’s all about patient safety. It’s all a matter of degree. When you look at the hours of training that a physician receives compared to a nurse practitioner, it’s logarithmically different. The TMA does not feel that nurse practitioners’ scope of practice needs to be expanded.”

To read the full article, go to the San Antonio Express-News’ website,