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 2024 General Assembly Session, and with the support of Del. Kathy Tran, the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners is supporting HB 971. This legislation reduces the transition to practice requirement for nurse practitioners (NPs) in Virginia to three years and amends the code to allow an existing practice agreement to continue by following specific procedures if a patient care team physician dies, loses their license or experiences another extenuating circumstance. Please reach out to your legislators and ask for their support of HB 971.

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

Patients come first. Nurse practitioners provide safe, high-quality care to every patient. For more than 50 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 and mental health care. The shortage of primary and mental health care providers already impacts Virginia residents – in both underserved rural and urban areas. More than 88% 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. Studies show 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 Outdated regulations put red tape between nurse practitioners and patients.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. More than half the states, the District of Columbia, Veterans Administration, Indian Health Service and prison system have laws and regulations embracing NPs and allowing for full practice authority. Of the states with transition to practice requirements, most require 2 years. Virginia is the only state with a 5-year requirement.

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.

Learn more about NPs in Virginia and across the country.

Visit American Association of Nurse Practitioners for national NP data.