On December 13, 2016, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) announced that three roles of the VA’s APRNs will be able to practice to the full extent of their licensure at VA clinics and hospitals. Certified nurse practitioners, certified nurse specialists, and certified midwifes will see an increased scope in practice authority. Excluded from this ruling are certified RN anesthetists, which the VA is still accepting comment on their inclusion for future rulemaking.
With the expanded scope of practice, APRNs will now be able to manage patient care without the supervision of a physician. According to the VA statement, “The final rulemaking establishes the professional qualifications an individual must possess to be appointed as an APRN within VA, establishes the criteria under which VA may grant full practice authority to an APRN, and defines the scope of full practice authority for each of the three roles of APRN.”
The VA also noted that this move will increase the number of qualified health professionals available to veterans in need. The VA’s statement went on to say that the expanded practice authority for APRNs “permits the VA to use its healthcare resources more effectively and in a manner that is consistent with the role of APRNs in the non-VA health care sector, while maintaining the patient-centered, safe, high-quality health care that veterans receive from VA.”
In May 2016—when the VA initially proposed the change—ONS applauded and supported the decision, noting the millions of veterans in need of care from qualified professionals.
ONS has long recognized the important roles that APRNs play in providing patients with quality care and has advocated for the ability for all nurses to practice to the full extent of their licenses. Moreover, the VA’s decision coincides with the National Acadamies Health and Medicine Division’s (formerly known as the Institute of Medicine) Future of Nursing Report that called for nurses to take up a greater role in health care by practicing to the full extent of their licenses. ONS will continue to advocate for APRNs and all oncology nurses on a local and national level. Learn more about ONS’s advocacy and policy initiatives.