New Bill Could Benefit Nurse Practioner’s Profession

One of the newest Bills that is awaiting the approval of the governor could possibly improve the access to health care for many southwest Virginia residents.
Already approved by the Virginia General Assembly, the bill would elevate the profession of nurse practioners. Currently they work under a collaborative practice agreement with a physician, if approved the new law would lessen that restriction after five years of experience.
Senator Bill Carrico stated, "This will allow for a doctor to sign off on a nurse practioner who has worked under them who can go out into the field and practice outside the office and offer more health care to our constituents who need it." Further addings that this would be a benefit for rural areas of the state. "We have a shortage of doctors. Nurse practitioners have been offering a service in southwest Virginia for a long time."
The Virginia Council of Nurse Practioners stated that 16% of residents in Virginia reside in areas that lack primary care. Adding that no one knows better than the nurse practioners with the Health Wagon, which is a non-profit mobile medical clinic that served roughly 14,000 uninsured or underinsured patients just in the last year.
Family nurse practioner Paula Hill stated, "What we're nervous about at the Health Wagon is our supervising physician is now almost 80 years old. If he was to retire or resign, our whole clinic would cease to function." Cost is also a major factor as Dr. Joe Smiddy currently offers his physician services for free. Adding that "To find a physician that would do this totally free of charge, like he does because we're a free clinic, we're very money constrained. It would be very difficult."
Currently the bill is in Governor Ralph Northam's hands and the deadline for the Governmor to take action is April 9th, 2018.

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