VNA Responds to Department of Veterans Affairs Final Rule on APRNs

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it will amend its regulations to allow full practice authority to three roles of advanced practice nurses (APRNs) when they are acting within the scope of their VA employment. This new rulemaking increases veterans’ access to VA healthcare by expanding the pool of qualified practitioners who are authorized to provide primary care and other related healthcare services.

The proposed rule generated an unprecedented number of comments from veterans, health care providers and the general public and grants full practice authority for three of the four APRN roles (nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists) acting within the scope of their VA employment. The fourth APRN category, certified registered nurse anesthetists, was not included in the rule change

“VNA supports the VA rule change and is pleased to see this vital step forward that puts the healthcare needs of our nation’s veterans first,” said Richardean Benjamin, Virginia Nurses Association (VNA) President. “However, VNA is concerned with the final rule’s exclusion of CRNAs, which is solely based on the VA’s belief that there is no evidence of a shortage of anesthesiologists impacting access to care. We join with our colleagues in continuing to advocate for CRNAs to have full practice authority within the VA health care system. 

This rule change authorizes the use of APRNs to provide primary care and other related services to the full extent of their education, training, and certification, without the clinical supervision or mandatory collaboration of physicians. APRNs are nurses who have met advanced educational and clinical practice requirements, and whose services range from primary and preventive care to mental health, birthing and anesthesia.

“Currently, Virginia has a restrictive practice environment that limits the ability of APRNs to provide care to patients,” said Kevin Shimp, VNA Commissioner on Government Relations. “VNA supports full practice authority for all APRNs, and we will continue to work toward achieving this goal.”