Nursing's Public Policy Platform - 2020 Special Session
We seek the following commitments from the commonwealth on behalf of
Virginia’s more than 110,000 registered nurses.
1. Funding the Virginia Preceptor Incentive Program
During the 2020 regular session, the General Assembly provided $500,000 each year to the Virginia Department of Health to incentivize additional health professionals including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants to serve as preceptors for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) students. This program is expected to significantly increase future enrollment of APRN students, which will help address workforce shortages in high demand fields, such as psychiatric care and primary care. The funding was unfortunately un-allotted during the reconvened session, but it’s crucial that we now restore those dollars in order to quickly increase the number of graduating advanced practice registered nurses.
2. COVID-19 Presumption for Healthcare Workers
Nurses and other healthcare professionals are exposed to COVID-19 patients on the job and are at risk of contracting the virus in the line of duty. Current workers’ compensation laws do not guarantee any protections for these workers who are injured on the job when they contract the virus. Legislation should be adopted to provide a presumption of work-related infection for healthcare professionals who suspect contracting the COVID-19 virus at work.
3. Reducing Unnecessary Practice Restrictions Consistent with Governor’s Order
In order to ensure access to care for Virginia patients, Governor Northam issued an executive order reducing the current requirement that a nurse practitioner practice under a physician’s practice agreement from 5 years to 2 years before transitioning to autonomous practice. Virginia should codify the governor’s reduced timeframe, as there is no negative impact on patient safety, access to care is improved, and this timeframe is closer to other states who have similar transition period requirements.
4. Registered Nurses in Public Schools
As school districts navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that a registered nurse be available in each public school. Regardless of whether schools meet in person or virtually, a registered nurse is educated and trained to handle many of the requirements that will exist as we deal with the pandemic, including the physical, social, and emotional health of students. Their expertise will always be critical to ensuring safe environments for both students and teachers. Additionally, school nurses serve a critical role to ensure ongoing community health and well-being across Virginia, especially for many minorities and underserved communities.
5. Supporting Increased Access to Telehealth
Telehealth is a critical tool in the 21st century to provide easier access to quality and affordable healthcare and mental health support and services to more citizens across Virginia. The governor has implemented a number of policies through executive order to increase access to telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these policies should be made permanent. Additionally, efforts should be made to increase access to broadband for all Virginians so they can access these services.