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Nurses Applaud Sen. Tillis for Co-Sponsoring “Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act.”

November 17, 2015

RALEIGH, NC - America’s veterans deserve timely access to high quality healthcare, which is why advocacy groups from across North Carolina are joining together to thank Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) for co-sponsoring the federal “Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act.”

When signed into law, this bill will help alleviate the highly publicized problems with wait times at Veterans Affairs facilities by giving Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) full practice authority, defined as the ability to practice to the full scope of their training and education without superfluous physician supervision rules. There has been an intense amount of scrutiny focused on the problems at the Veterans Health Administration, and this bill offers a concrete solution.

Among the groups endorsing this bill are:

  • North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA)
  • North Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists (NCANA)
  • North Carolina Affiliate of the American College of Nurse Midwives (NCACNM)
  • North Carolina Affiliate of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS)

“Advanced practice nurses serve as front-line providers for our military servicemen and women, and their expertise and experience will be important in ensuring all veterans have the high quality care they deserve,” said NCANA President Brett Morgan, DNP, CRNA. “We applaud the efforts of Senator Tillis in recognizing and supporting the valuable role advanced practice nurses, such as nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists, will play in the future of healthcare delivery for our nation’s heroes.”

The proposed improvements are not without precedent: the US military already allows full practice authority for APRNs treating active duty service members. Additionally, dozens of states have allowed full practice authority at the state level, although North Carolina has not yet done so for all APRNs. House Bill 807/Senate Bill 695, Modernize Nursing Practice Act, which was introduced earlier this year at the North Carolina General Assembly and is still up for consideration in the 2016 short session, would help bring North Carolina in line with other states. Primary co-sponsors of the Modernize Nursing Practice Act include Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), Sen. Louis Pate (R-Wayne), Rep. Marilyn Avila (R-Wake), Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth), Rep. Sarah Stevens (R-Surry) and Rep. Josh Dobson (R-McDowell).

“Many of the improvements in this federal bill mirror what people like Senator Hise and Representative Avila are trying to do for healthcare here in North Carolina,” said NCNA President Mary Graff, MSN, RN, NEA-BC. “It is fitting that Senator Tillis is taking such a proactive stance, considering North Carolina’s strong military presence. I would urge some of Tillis’ former colleagues at the North Carolina General Assembly to follow his lead.”

In a landmark 2010 report, The Institute of Medicine called for APRNs to be granted full practice authority across the country. The report cited evidence-based research and increasingly advanced training as reasons that APRNs are highly qualified to mitigate impending gaps in access to healthcare throughout the United States. The types of nurses that qualify as APRNs include Nurse Practitioners, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Certified Nurse Midwives, and Clinical Nurse Specialists, and all APRNs are required to have a master’s degree at minimum.