Virginia nurse practitioners are ready, willing, able – and nationally certified – to expand access to health care statewide.

The passage of Virginia HB 793 in 2018, established the opportunity for NPs with the equivalent of five or more years (that is, 9,000 hours) of clinical experience to apply for autonomous practice – that is, practice that does not necessitate a collaborating agreement with a physician.

During the 2021 General Assembly session, and with the support of Del. Dawn Adams, the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners is introducing HB 1737. This bill reduces from five to two the number of years of clinical experience an NP must have to be eligible to practice without a written or electronic practice agreement. Please reach out today to members of the Senate Education and Health committee and the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee to ask for their support of HB 1737.

Here’s why it’s important to support nurse practitioners throughout Virginia:

Patients come first. Nurse practitioners provide high-quality care to every patient. Over the past 40 years, every major study on NP care – over 100 – have shown that nurse practitioners’ patient health outcomes meet or exceed the results from other providers. This is because NPs choose a population focus earlier in their education. Their philosophy guides NPs to take a holistic approach. They look at and listen to the entire patient.

People of Virginia need more primary care. The shortage of primary care providers already impacts Virginia residents – in both underserved rural and urban areas. More than 90% of all NPs are certified to provide primary care. We must act quickly to ensure the people of Virginia can depend on access to quality health care in the years to come.

Nurse practitioners serve rural communities. Nurse practitioners are twice as likely as physicians to serve in rural communities, and NPs in states with lower barriers to practice are more likely to practice in rural areas compared to states without it.

It saves money. Outdated regulations put red tape between nurse practitioners and patients.  Free market advocates support lower barriers to practice for nurse practitioners, as increased competition in health care is good for both patients and consumers. Unlike other proposals to expand access to care, this will not cost taxpayers a dime.

Experience and experts agree. 22 states and Washington, D.C., and the Veterans Administration have already adopted full practice authority. The Institute of Medicine, AARP, the National Governor’s Association, the Federal Trade Commission, and the National Conference of State Legislatures have all endorsed the policy. HB 793 helps lower barriers to practice and is an important step towards Full Practice Authority.

Patient-centered care will remain strong. Patients are most healthy when they can access the health care system easily and affordably. Nurse practitioners are trained to work as part of a health care team. Just as physicians need no mandate to refer patients to a specialist, NPs work with other health care professionals any time it benefits the health of a patient.