Nebraska Nurse Practitioner Change Could Benefit Rural Areas


After Governor Heineman vetoed the bill last year, Nebraska Nurse Practitioners fought to get the issue heard in this year's legislative session.

Governor Ricketts signed the bill earlier this month eliminating the requirement for nurse practitioners to get a physician signature before practicing.

LaDonna Hart, president of NNP, said eliminating the career-long integrated practice agreement for nurse practitioners could benefit rural areas and their economies because they'll be able to open their own practices.

Current nurse practitioners have to get a physician's signature to practice, known as an integrated practice agreement. That is something that can be difficult to obtain in rural areas.

"We also see increased difficulties finding and recruiting physicians to parts of Nebraska, so therefore, we also have a shortage of physicians that can find or will find an integrated practice agreement," said Hart.

Cathy Phillips is a psychiatric nurse practitioner serving several south-central Nebraska counties. She says nurse practitioner care is just as effective as a physician's.

"If they're allowed to practice to the full extent of their training, [they] have documented outcomes that are equivalent to, and in some instances, greater than physician compactors," said Phillips. "Full practice authority for nurse practitioners translates into greater access for Nebraskans for care."

Recent NP graduates must still complete a year's worth of training with a physician or established nurse practitioner before they can practice on their own.

The bill should take effect 90 days after this legislative session ends.

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