Bobbie Berkowitz, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of Columbia University School of Nursing, applauds the effort by the Veterans Health Administration to let nurses with advanced education practice medicine without direct supervision by physicians.
The VHA, the largest healthcare system in the U.S., is weighing new guidelines that would let nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and clinical-nurse specialists practice independently.
"This is really a win for patients," said Berkowitz. "At a time when there is a worsening shortage of providers in primary care and in many specialties, advanced practice nurses can help offer patients timely access to quality care. Nurse practitioners absolutely have the education and experience necessary to work without the direct supervision of a physician and to lead teams of health care professionals in providing coordinated care."
The proposed policy shift at the VHA system follows recommendations from the Institute of Medicine's "Future of Nursing" report, which advocates that nurses practice to the full scope of their education.