Maryland passes new law giving NPs practice autonomy from physicians
Maryland nursing leaders believe patients will benefit from new state legislation that allows nurse practitioners to work independently of physicians. The law also gives independent NPs the ability to open their own practices.
Gov. Larry Hogan signed the Nurse Practitioner Full Practice Authority Act into law in May, making Maryland the 21st state to have passed such legislation.
American Association of Nurse Practitioners President Ken Miller, PhD, RN, CFNP, FAAN, FAANP, called the passage of the Maryland law “very rewarding.”
Fifty years of data prove “that NPs provide high-quality, cost-effective and safe care that can improve access and make healthcare delivery more efficient when NPs are authorized to practice at the top of their education and national certification,” said Miller, a Maryland resident.
The measure allows nurse practitioners, who usually have two years of post-graduate education and advanced training, to prescribe certain drugs and diagnose and treat routine and complex medical conditions without physician oversight. Prior to the law, nurse practitioners were required to maintain attestation or collaborative agreements with physicians as a pre-condition of licensure and practice.
Nurse practitioners play important role as care providers
These days, it’s not uncommon to feel rushed at a doctor’s appointment. Medical clinics tend to be extremely busy places, so providers are continually looking for ways to serve an increasing number of patients who need care.
Fortunately, the world of medicine continues to adapt to changing demands, and the addition of nurse practitioners into area medical clinics is improving access to patient care.
What is a nurse practitioner? A registered nurse with graduate-level education that allows them to provide care you might think you could only get from a doctor.
For example, nurse practitioners may provide services such as:
-Diagnostic and treatment of most common and chronic illnesses
-Health and wellness counseling
-Screenings and referrals
-Prescriptions for medications
Nurse practitioners first obtain degrees as registered nurses (RNs). Many have extensive nursing experience as RNs before going on to complete a nurse practitioner (NP) program. These programs include many hours of clinical training under the guidance of a credentialed nurse practitioner or physician.
It takes about two years to complete an NP program, followed by state or national certification exams. Oregon was one of the first states to require a master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner. The state requires an advanced degree because nurse practitioners provide similar care to that of a physician.
Like physicians, nurse practitioners may choose to specialize in nearly all areas of health care, including:
-Family and adult health