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States with Full Practice Authority Among the Healthiest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 15, 2017

During the most recent legislative session, some opponents of full practice authority for nurse practitioners argued the move would put patient health and safety at risk. The fact is, full practice authority simply means that NPs would be allowed to put their full education and training to work caring for Oklahomans.

The opponents offered no data to back up their claim and, in fact, national data shows a very different picture. Compare the states with full practice authority against national state health rankings.

Here’s the regulatory map from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners:

Here are the 2016 state health rankings compiled by the United Health Foundation. Using the same colors as above, we color-coded the states to indicate each regulatory environment. There is a lot of green in the top of the rankings.

Eighteen of the top 25 states give NPs full practice authority. Only three of the top 25 states were as restrictive as Oklahoma, which ranked 46th. Of the 22 states with full practice authority, New Mexico had the lowest ranking at 38th.

While that doesn’t prove that full practice authority results in better health for citizens — there are dozens of variables that figure into a population’s health — it refutes the idea that nurse practitioners offer a lesser quality of care.

Study after study has debunked the idea that patients suffer when an NP is the primary care provider. The National Governors Association looked at those studies and wrote, “None of the studies in NGA’s literature review raise concerns about the quality of care offered by NPs. Most studies showed that NP-provided care is comparable to physician-provided care on several process and outcome measures. Moreover, the stud­ies suggest that NPs may provide improved access to care.”

Within their scope of practice, nurse practitioners offer health care outcomes that are comparable to doctors. They also offer our state a chance to improve access to quality health care for all Oklahomans. Many lawmakers got that message this year and supported lifting these antiquated restrictions. But that support wasn’t universal. Supporters of NP full practice authority need to keep working to build support in the legislature and awareness in the general public.

Our state, and the health of Oklahomans, has nowhere to go but up.

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