The health care needs of our society are growing. With the new health care reform changes, more people will be covered by health insurance and more preventative care will be offered to people. Our nation deserves safe and effective care, much of which will be delivered by APRNs. APRNs, have an obligation to the people they serve, to set a standard for licensure, define our role, and standardize our title. Having these facets defined nationally helps other health care professionals to understand and respect the role of the APRN. As APRNs work in direct patient care, having a national standard for licensure recognized by each state would facilitate care across state lines, thereby improving access to health care for underserved areas, and improve the public’s understanding of the APRN role.
Primary care providers are also in great demand to deal with acute issues and need to be prepared for emergency and crisis situations. Considerations must be made of potential challenges in a crisis, such as overwhelmed hospitals that may have lost their own expert nursing staff, babies still born, and overwhelming influx number of surgeries in response to massive casualties. A national licensure requirement for APRNs would facilitate ease of movement between states as each state already understands the role and scope of practice of a licensed APRN.
An example of the disadvantage of not allowing APRNs to practice freely between states was observed in Louisiana during hurricane Katrina, when APRNs were in great need. However, in Louisiana prescriptive authority was only allowed through a lengthy process of establishing a relationship with a physician which was “not a portable agreement, and advanced practice in terms of authority for diagnosis and treatment does not exist outside the practice setting” (Rhoads & Ferguson, 2005, p. 216). How could advanced practice nurses move into the state for temporary assignment to help if it was so difficult to move within the state? A means of licensure that exists across state borders would facilitate this rapid response in a time when the citizens are in need of extra care in one area.
Through funding from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, $15 million has been set aside to found new NP-led clinics, to fund education for NPs, and to provide treatment for medically underserved communities, (HealthReform.gov, 2010). Standard requirements for licensure would make it easier for APRNs to move, practice, and serve these areas.
A greater number of health care providers will be necessary as our country takes on the responsibility, through the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, to cover all of our citizens with...