The scope of practice of a nurse practitioner

How does your state define the scope of practice of a nurse practitioner?

The purpose of this study was to determine how states define the scope of practice for Nurse Practitioners. This information will be used by NPs and other health care providers in their efforts to obtain licensure.

Methods: A survey instrument was developed based on previous research, literature review, and input from experts in nursing education, NP programs, and professional organizations. It consisted of questions about the definition of the scope of practice, educational requirements, certification/licensure process, and barriers to obtaining licensure. The survey was sent via email to all 50 US States’ Boards of Nursing with an invitation to participate. Data were collected between January 1st and April 30th, 2013. Descriptive statistics were calculated using SPSS version 20.0.

Results: Thirty-nine surveys were completed; one response per State Board of Nursing. Twenty-two percent of respondents defined the scope of practice as including direct patient care only, while 78% included indirect patient care such as teaching or precepting students. Seventy-five percent indicated that they would require at least a master’s degree prior to licensing. Forty-three percent reported having difficulty finding employment due to lack of licensure.

Conclusions: There is wide variation among boards regarding what constitutes the scope of practice for NPs. Many are not aware of current legislation pertaining to NPs. In addition, many have concerns related to the ability to find work once licensed.

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