thus gathered has helped guide parents and providers in better planning for the care of high-risk neonates at home (Bakewell-Sachs et al., 2009; Medoff-Cooper et al., 2009).

Another effort, called TelEmergency, brings a certified emergency room physician to 12 rural hospitals in Mississippi from the University of Mississippi via a T-1 line, but only when needed. The system is managed by a group of 35 APRNs who provide care in these rural communities, including management of the technology as a referral system. The nurses are able to handle 60 percent of all emergency care, saving the hospital consortium $72,000 per month (AAN, 2010b).

The case study in Box 3-5 shows how nurses at one institution are working to ensure that they spend their time in patient care and not on the technology associated with delivering modern health care.

CONCLUSION

The nursing profession has evolved more rapidly than the public policies that affect it. The ability of nurses to better serve the public is hampered by the constraints of outdated policies, particularly those involving nurses’ scopes of practice. Evidence does not support the conclusion that APRNs are less able than physicians to provide safe, effective, and efficient care (Brown and Grimes, 1995; Fairman, 2008; Groth et al., 2010; Hatem et al., 2008; Hogan et al., 2010; Horrocks et al., 2002; Hughes et al., 2010; Laurant et al., 2004; Mundinger et al., 2000; Office of Technology Assessment, 1986). The roles of APRNs—and the roles of all nurses—are undergoing changes that will help make the transformative practice models outlined at the beginning of this chapter a more common reality. Such changes must be supported by a number of policy decisions, including efforts to remove the existing regulatory barriers to nursing practice. If the current conflicts between what nurses can do based on their education and training and what they may do according to state and federal policies and regulations are not addressed, patients will continue to experience limited access to high-quality care.

Despite the evidence demonstrating that APRNs are educated, trained, and competent to provide safe, high-quality care without the need for physician supervision, states’ legislative decisions regarding legal scopes of practice range from restrictive to permissive. While medicine and a number of other professions enjoy practice regulations that are comparable across states, this goal has been elusive for nurses, particularly those working in advanced practice. With the availability now of a consensus document that offers agreed-upon standards for APRN education, training, and regulation, states that have been reluctant in the past may move toward broader scopes of practice. Such a move, however, considered by the committee to be a critical one, is not guaranteed. And while the committee defers to the rights of states to continue their regulation of health



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement