By Debbie Gregory.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is proposing a rule to grant full practice authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) when they are acting within the scope of their VA employment. The change would allow APRNs to assess, diagnose, prescribe medications and interpret diagnostic tests.
APRNs are nurses with advanced degrees (masters, post-master or doctoral ) and training who provide primary, acute and specialty health care services. They work as Certified Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists and Certified Nurse Midwives.
VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. David J. Shulkin said, “The purpose of this proposed regulation is to ensure VA has authority to address staffing shortages in the future.” He continued, “Implementation of the final rule would be made through VHA policy, which would clarify whether and which of the four APRN roles would be granted full practice authority. This is good news for our APRNs, who will be able to perform functions that their colleagues in the private sector are already doing.”
The American Nurses Association (ANA) is completely behind this idea, especially given that many of these nurse professionals received their initial training in the military. “VA will be able to more effectively meet the health care needs of our nation’s Veterans,” said ANA President Pamela Cipriano. “This proposal removes barriers that prevent APRNs from providing a full range of services and will assist VA in its ongoing efforts to address staff shortages and improve Veterans’ access to care. APRNs are critical members of the health care workforce and an integral component of the health care delivery system with a proven track record of safe quality care and high patient satisfaction.”