March 26, 2020
For many years, The Alabama State Nurses Association has advocated for the removal of barriers and restrictions placed on advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) in our state. The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the previous arguments that APRNs are educated and have the experience to provide a myriad of essential primary care needs and that restrictions on their practice hinders vital access to care for Alabama citizens. Even before the present health crisis, Alabama had a critical shortage in primary care physicians, particularly in rural areas. Hospital emergency rooms have served as a very expensive alternative for patients who needed access to basic healthcare. This is bad for patients, the hospitals, and the taxpayers of Alabama. The taxpayers ultimately fund programs that pay exorbitant fees for emergency room services when a standard clinic visit would have been sufficient!
The COVID-19 crisis requires immediate action. As our governments work to urgently respond to shortages in equipment and clinical supplies, we URGE government and policy makers to release our trained and ready APRNs from rules and restrictions that hobble their ability to be a first line of defense and offense against the current enemy and ongoing health issues that plague our citizens. The Alabama State Nurses Association urgently requests that legislation and policies be enacted that give Alabama’s 6,000 licensed nurse practitioners and other APRNs, including clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), certified nurse midwives (CNMs) and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), the ability to have full practice authority within the scope of their education and experience.
The majority of states have already acted. Most recently, Florida passed a law granting full practice authority for nurse practitioners. ASNA supports the efforts of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and National Nurse Practitioner Association’s positions on the benefits of state legislation that removes unnecessary constraints on practice such as collaborative physician agreements, red tape, signing authority, and even prohibitions for basic physical exams for school athletes. ASNA is working with the Alabama Board of Nursing and advanced practice organizations to make full practice authority a law in Alabama. NOW IS THE TIME for full practice authority! We are in a battle, and we have experienced “soldiers” who are ready to join the fight without the hindrances of outdated restrictions.
Sarah Wilkinson-Buchmann, DNP, RN
President, Alabama State Nurses Association