Nursing Health Policy: Modernizing the Role of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses

Nurses play significant roles in promoting the health of the public through fighting diseases, treating patients and educating people on the need and ways of staying healthy (Heath Care Workers, 2015). The role of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) is limited, and this does not allow them to utilize their skills and experiences yet they have the relevant knowledge required to perform various duties. This paper examines a nursing health policy change required to modernize the role of advanced practice registered nurses.

An advanced practice registered nurse is a professional who has specialized in providing primary health care services to the public (Hunt, 1987). Most health care facilities, especially those in North Carolina consider APRNs as incapable of admitting patients to hospitals and other health facilities (Institute of Nursing, 2011). The North Carolina Nurses Association is in the forefront in fighting for the rights of nurses to ensure they are allowed to practice to the full extent of their careers (North Carolina Nurses Association, 2015). The American Association of Nurse Practitioners states that full practice authority is “the collection of state practices and licensure laws that allow for NPs to evaluate patients, diagnose, order, and interpret diagnostic tests, initiate and manage treatments-including prescribing medications under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing” (American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 2014). Moreover, this association states that the main problem facing this regulation is that only a third of the nation has adopted full practice authority licensure and practice laws for nurse practitioners (Polit and Beck, 2008). The rest have reduced practice and licensure which means that they are allowed to engage in at least an element of the nursing practice which is controlled by an external health department to ensure patients get proper care. The AANP explains that nurses are only allowed to practice under the full supervision by an outside health discipline (American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 2014).

One of the most serious impediments to accessible care is the overly restrictive scope-of-practice policy that exists in some states (Conover, 2015). It is surprising that nurses are not allowed to practice what they learn in nursing institutions yet they have the educational and practice requirements for licensure. Moreover, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report recommended that nurses should be eligible for hospital clinical and admitting privileges and perform hospital admission assessments (Hain and Fleck, 2014). Also, it also recommended that nurses should be allowed membership in their governing bodies. This means that nurses should be allowed to document medical histories and perform physical examinations on patients; however, the existing policies do not allow them to do these duties.

The Greatest beneficiaries of these changes are nurses, nursing associations and patients. Nurses will use their skills to the fullest, and this means that they will enjoy doing what they learned in nursing institutions (Brassard and Smolenski, 2011). Patients will have more nurses to attend to them, and this means that emergency cases will be addressed within a reasonable time. They will not queue for long because there will be more nurses to attend to them. Advanced practice registered nurses will join the American Association of Nurses and the North Carolina Nurse Association, and this means that their voices will be stronger than they used to be.

Nurses, patients, and nursing associations are influential in bringing these changes through their direct or indirect involvement in transforming nursing. Health practitioners can influence the policies that govern this profession through their associations. They can request or demand the government and all related organs to limit the barriers to practice. Patients can use their tyranny of numbers to influence the policies of nursing and ensure the government listens and heeds to their pleas. They form a significant part of the bodies responsible for drafting the nursing policies. Therefore, they can use their numbers to influence these bodies and ensure they expand the scope of practice for advanced practice registered nurses.


American Association of Nurse Practitioners. (2014). AANP Applauds Maryland for Right-Sizing Nurse Practitioner Regulations: New Law Makes Maryland the 21st State to Grant Patients Full and Direct Access to Nurse Practitioner-Provided Care. Web. 

Brassard, A. and Smolenski, M. (2011). Removing Barriers to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Care: Hospital Privileges. Web.

Conover, C. (2015). Study Makes the Economic Case for Advanced Practice Nurses. Web. 

Hain, D. and Fleck, L. (2014) “Barriers to Nurse Practitioner Practice that Impact Healthcare Redesign” OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 19(2), 23.

Heath Care Workers. (2015). Nurse Practitioners Ask Lawmakers to Ease Restrictions for Practice. Web.

Hunt, M. (1987). The process of translating research findings into nursing practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 12(1), 101-110.

Institute of Nursing. (2011). The Future of Nursing Focus on Scope of Practice. Web. 

North Carolina Nurses Association. (2015). Duke Study Shows Advanced Practice Nurses Offer Affordable Solution to NC Physician Shortage. Web.

Polit, D. F. and Beck, C. T. (2008). Nursing Research: Generating and Assessing Evidence for Nursing Practice. New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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