Elizabeth Rash, an associate professor in UCF’s College of Nursing and coordinator of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and Debbie Chandler, a UCF doctoral student whose thesis is on the expansion of nurses’ practice, give their perspective on why the nursing role should be expanded in Florida and across the nation.

The article was written by Marisa Ramiccio, a UCF journalism student on special assignment for the Orlando Sentinel.

Excerpt of the original article published on April 28, 2010:

No one really likes going to the doctor’s office. But how about going to the nurse’s office?

Twenty-eight states, including Florida, are pushing to expand the authority and responsibility that nurse practitioners have, due to the nation-wide shortage of doctors.

In Florida and Alabama it is illegal for nurses to prescribe controlled substances to patients; the other 48 states have made it legal. Legislation to lift this ban has been filed in Florida for the past 16 years, but the bill has stalled in committee.

“We see it as an access to care issue,” said Willa Fuller, the executive director for the Florida Nurses Association. “[Passing this legislation] would alleviate the delay in receiving these medications, many of which are not narcotics, but other meds such as anti-depressants and even laxatives.”

In many states, nurses with advanced degrees are also pushing to remove supervision requirements. According to the Associated Press, some states put doctors in charge of nurses or require doctors to sign collaborative agreements with nurses.

In Florida, these supervision requirements are not as strict as those states. Nurses are simply required to file protocol with the Department of Professional Regulation.

“Research has demonstrated that advanced practice nurses can provide this care and do not necessarily need this supervisory proviso to deliver quality, safe and effective health care,” said Elizabeth Rash, associate professor in UCF’s College of Nursing.

The government somewhat agrees. Because of the recent health care overhaul, many nurse-managed clinics are receiving more funding, much to the dismay of the American Medical Association.

The AMA is actively pursuing ways to block nurses from infringing on their turf. AMA president-elect Dr. Cecil Wilson told the AP that “a shortage of one type of professional is not a reason to change the standards of medical care.”

The AMA claims that nurses are neither qualified nor prepared to practice independently, but Fuller said that there is no evidence of this.

Debbie Chandler, a doctoral student in UCF’s College of Nursing whose thesis is on the expansion of nurses’ practice, said that nurse managed clinics are more cost effective because they keep patients out of hospitals and have a lower reimbursement rate than physicians.

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