VA Proposes Change to Give APRNs Full Practice Authority

On May 25, 2016, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a proposal to change medical regulations to allow advanced practice register nurse (APRNs) the ability to provide care to the full extent of their medical authority while employed at VA hospitals and clinics. This change would effectively increase the number of qualified primary health providers, allowing greater access for the VA’s veteran patients.

The proposed change also addresses the qualifications required to become an APRN in VA employment. According to the announcement, “The proposed rulemaking would subdivide APRNs into four separate categories that include certified nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist, and certified nurse-midwife.” The VA’s change would also provide an explanation of the APRNs’ scope of practice, along with criteria under which full practice authority would be given. The VA noted that care provided by any of the four APRN roles would align with the standards for those roles set forth by the nursing profession.

ONS, along with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, has applauded this move, noting that nearly 8.7 million veterans are currently seeking care. APRNs provide high-quality, expert care for their patients, and this proposed change could allow greater reach to more veterans in need of qualified healthcare professionals.

According to the VA, open comments regarding the change can be submitted until July 25, 2016.

The proposed change to the VA’s regulations is a huge step forward for APRNs and recognizes the impact and value of the nursing profession, regardless of setting. By providing greater healthcare access to those who need it, APRNs will be making a difference, along with their colleagues and coworkers

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