The modern healthcare sector can be characterized by multiple attempts to increase the efficiency of care delivery and improve treatment outcomes. For this reason, there are numerous innovations, including the extensive use of technologies, reconsideration of outdated practices, and better training for health workers. Under these conditions, the question about nurses authorities also becomes topical as they remain one of the main contributors to positive results. That is why nurse practitioners should be provided with the full practice authority to increase their degree of independence and ensure higher accessibility of care for patients and better outcomes.
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At the moment, the situation regarding the issue is complex. NPs can prescribe medications, including drugs and controlled substances, in all states and Washington DC (ANA 23). However, the degree of their independence varies because of differences in NP authority. There are three broad categories regulating the power of nurses to prescribe medicines with different levels of physicians’ supervision. These are restricted, reduced, and full practice (ANA 20). In the largest states of the USA, NPs have to act under the restricted authority, which significantly reduces their efficiency and ability to provide patients with the needed care.
Full Practice Authority
Thus, the full practice authority can be considered a potent solution to the problem of limited access to care and reduced nurses’ efficiency. It presupposes that all NPs are provided with the right to prescribe all medications regardless of their status without physicians’ supervision or oversight (ANA 24). It means that this category of health workers acquires the opportunity to directly impact the health status of the community by providing appropriate treatment without consultations with other specialists. This degree of independence also means that nurses’ functions become similar to physicians’ ones as they can select among various ways of treatment.
Adherers of the necessity to provide NPs with the full practice authority emphasize the fact that it will help to solve multiple problems in the modern healthcare sector. First of all, the improved accessibility of care can be expected. Patients in distant regions will acquire the chance to get the needed medication, not waiting for the physician’s approval (Taylor et al. 88). Secondly, this shift of priorities can become a potent stimulus for nurses’ personal and professional growth because of the increased level of responsibility and the necessity to possess the deep knowledge to guarantee positive results (Taylor et al. 111).
At the same time, it can become an effective cost-saving approach as nurses will be able to perform several new functions without the radical reconsideration of their salaries or spending to pay physicians for their consultations. It can be considered a significant advantage as the need to reduce costs is one of the basic concerns of the healthcare sector (Taylor et al. 97). Finally, physicians’ workload will be reduced, which also means their increased efficiency.
Disadvantages and Risks
However, there are several disadvantages, risks, and problems associated with the provision of full practice authority to NPs. First of all, it might result in an increased number of medication errors (Taylor et al. 99). By the statistics, about 65% of all nurses make mistakes while distributing pills (Potter et al. 87). Without supervision, this number can increase. Another issue is the risk of inappropriate or poor knowledge among nurses who will be provided with the right to prescribe pills and impact the treatment process. It can pose a significant threat to patients’ health and undermine their well-being.
Furthermore, the provision of the full practice authority to NPs can undermine the current health care system because of the absence of efficient techniques and methods to monitor all prescriptions made by nurses regarding their new abilities (Taylor et al. 87). In such a way, the transition to a new model can be associated with multiple fears about the emergence of critical problems that will deteriorate the quality of care and its provision to various patients’ groups demanding assistance or pharmacological treatment.
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These problems remain a significant barrier to the implementation of a new approach. However, some potent interventions can help to mitigate risks and solve these problems. First of all, the strict procedure of certification should be introduced. It will help analyze NPs’ level of knowledge and their competence to make prescriptions and provide patients with the needed medication. It will also promote a significant minimization in the number of mistakes preconditioned by the poor competence and mitigate risks associated with it (Potter et al. 76).
Second, an effective monitoring tool should be implemented to ensure that all nurses cope with the new level of independence and contribute to the improved results. Finally, to ensure the absence of ethical problems associated with the lack of trust in nurses among patients, they should be taught about the new competencies and authorities that rest on the outstanding knowledge and experience. It guarantees improved results and accessibility of care.
In such a way, the problem of limited NPs’ authority remains topical for the modern healthcare sector. Barriers at the state and national levels prevent qualified caregivers from providing care to patients who need it. Moreover, these regulations deprive specialists of practicing to the full extent as their education and training prepared them for multiple complex situations that should be solved to improve individuals’ states (Potter et al. 76).
Considering the fact that the provision of effective and high-quality care to patients is one of the major concerns of the modern healthcare sector, it is critical to eliminate these barriers to ensure that all patients will be provided with the needed assistance to improve their health status. Guaranteeing the full practice authority to nurses can be considered an effective solution to many problems peculiar to the sphere. It is a cost-reducing, innovative, and potent way to align the continuity of care and gradual improvement of the nation’s health.
ANA. Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice. 3rd ed., American Nurses Association 2016.
Potter, Patricia, et al. Fundamentals of Nursing. 9th ed., Mosby, 2016.
Taylor, Carol, et al. Fundamentals of Nursing. 8th ed., LWW, 2014.