As National Nurses Week concludes, I want to take a moment and thank all nurses — past, present, and future — for all that you do. I know firsthand the importance of nurses not only to patients, but to their families. During the 15 years I cared for my parents, nurses made a huge difference in our lives. There’s no doubt, caregiving takes a team, and so often nurses were a part of my family’s team.
I also know that for many of you, they’re a part of your team, too. When we asked to hear about your experiences with nurses recently on our @AARPadvocates Facebook page, your response was overwhelming, and positive. The comments came pouring in:
- Charlie: “This country wouldn't be the same without our caring nurses.”
- Winston: “Nurses are the basic bedrock of my healthcare.”
- Cecilia: “Nurses are Special People they can never be replaced.”
- Genevieve: “I have said it before and I will say it again. Nurses are the backbone of the hospitals.”
- MJ: “Nurses have gotten me through some very tricky times. My oncology nurse, Mary got me through hell and back. My admiration for nurses knows no bounds. Thank you all.”
- Robert: “Awesome and made a tremendous difference in the care of all family members!”
Give nurses f ull authority to heal
Because nurses are so important to all of us, AARP is fighting to break down the barriers that prevent nurse practitioners from using all their training and skills to care for patients. Already in 20 states, nurse practitioners can provide complete primary care services, including routine health care such as diagnosing and treating patients, managing chronic conditions, ordering lab tests, prescribing medications and performing annual exams.
Nurse practitioners have this authority because they have completed advanced education at the master’s or doctoral level, focused on areas like primary and elder care.
Breaking down these barriers could:
- Ease a predicted shortage of primary care providers
- Improve patient choice
- Expand options for patients to receive primary care in the setting of their choice — in medical offices, at home, in community health centers and more. For family caregivers, this is especially important since their loved ones — like my mom and pop — often would be better served by receiving health care at home.
Breaking down the barriers state by state
We’re fighting in states across the country to make it easier to give nurses full authority to heal.
The good news: Progress is being made. Already this year, Nebraska, New Jersey and Washington have passed laws that will give nurse practitioners more authority. Additionally, bills in Colorado and Maryland have passed the state legislature and are just awaiting the governor’s signature.
States to watch
California: Senate Bill 323 would improve and modernize California’s health care rules so that nurse practitioners could use all their skills and training to care for patients, especially older people who need to receive care at home to continue living independently — and stay out of costly nursing homes. The bill recently passed the state Senate and now moves to the Assembly for consideration. Right now, California is the only West Coast state that has not updated its health care rules when it comes to nurse practitioners.
Similar bills are being considered in other states, including: Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
See where your state stands:
Follow me on Twitter @RoamTheDomes for more news on this important issue. And to stay up to date on our advocacy in the states, sign up for the AARP Advocates e-newsletter or visit your state Web page.