Put into Practice: Nurse Practitioners Increasingly Gain Full Clinical Authority

By Thomas Crocker
Monday, September 26, 2022

As a major physician shortfall looms, states are turning to nurse practitioners (NPs) to help shore up the ranks of healthcare providers. For many states, that means expanding NPs’ practice authority.

The Association of American Medical Colleges projects that by 2034, the U.S. could face a shortage of 37,800 to 124,000 physicians, including 17,800 to 48,000 primary care physicians. In response, many states have gone all-in on temporary, pandemic-era regulatory changes that granted NPs greater practice authority. More than 70% of NPs deliver primary care, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).

Last spring, Kansas and New York became the latest states to grant NPs full practice authority. This allows NPs to evaluate and diagnose patients, order and interpret diagnostic tests, provide treatments, and prescribe medications without physician oversight, according to the AANP. Twenty-six states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories now allow NPs to exercise full practice authority.

Measurable Results

NPs can help healthcare organizations improve on several quality metrics, including hospital readmissions and patient satisfaction, according to the AANP. A 2021 University of Pennsylvania study of more than 1.4 million patients in 579 hospitals found that facilities that employed more NPs had significantly fewer deaths, lower Medicare costs, and higher patient satisfaction and safety ratings.

In a press release following New York’s move, AANP CEO Jon Fanning, MS, CAE, CNED, said, “[Granting full practice authority to NPs] is a no-cost, no-delay solution to strengthening health care for the nation … We look forward to more states following suit.”