Nurse Practitioners Push Department of Veteran Affairs to Relax Restrictions on Veteran Care

Health agencies across the globe have begun to recognize the important role that nurse practitioners play in patient care and have increasingly relied on nurse practitioners to act as primary care providers. However, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) continues to lag behind other health agencies in the United States by limiting the duties that nurses are allowed to perform in the diagnosis, care and recovery process.

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With Veteran’s Day fast approaching, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) has begun a push with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to grant full practice authority to advance practice registered nurses (APRNs) and improve the care of veterans nationwide.

The Federal Trade Commission, AARP, Institute of Medicine, National Governors Association, and National Conference of State Legislatures, have all recommended, on the basis of decades worth of peer reviewed research, that APRNs like nurse practitioners be given increased authority to practice in the midst of a physician shortage.

The DVA’s continued sidelining of nurses to lesser roles has led the AANP to release an extended statement encouraging lawmakers and the DVA to review their current policies and increase the authority given to APRNs.

“On behalf of the men and women who have bravely served our country in uniform, we ask our Congressional leaders and Secretary McDonald to fully utilize the 4,800 NPs who work across VA settings,” said AANP president Cindy Cooke. A nurse with 12 years of experience, Cooke has been an advocate for change in the DVA for years and has spearhead the APRNs’ involvement with nursing reform over the past several years.

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Relaxing regulatory measures on nurses might very well be the key to overcoming a variety of organizational issues and redundancy problems within the DVA, and its leaders would do well to consider the role that nurse practitioners have to play in the future of veteran care.