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Legislation Could Change Licensing for SD Nurse Practitioners, Midwives

A bill in the South Dakota Legislature could expand the number of nurse practitioners and midwives working in rural parts of the state. (Jerry Oster)
A bill in the South Dakota Legislature could expand the number of nurse practitioners and midwives working in rural parts of the state. (Jerry Oster)
February 6, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. -- A bill that could expand the scope of services from nurse practitioners and nurse midwives has made it halfway through the South Dakota Legislature.

Senate Bill 61 would allow the state Board of Nursing to license nurse practitioners. Its sponsor, Sen. Deb Soholt of Sioux Falls, said the state has fallen behind neighboring states in terms of licensing requirements.

"In the licensing arena, they're jointly licensed between the Board of Nursing and the Board of Medicine,” Soholt explained. "What has changed is that all the states around South Dakota now do not require what we would call a collaborative agreement; in other words, a joint licensure. So, we're starting to see difficulty in recruiting and retention."

The bill would allow nurse practitioners and nurse midwives with the proper training to practice with one state license from the Board of Nursing. It passed the Senate on a unanimous vote and will be heard in the House Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday.

Soholt said nurse practitioners and midwives provide critical services, especially in rural areas of the state.

"We know there is going to be an incredible primary care shortage out to our rural areas in particular, and also the mental health issues that are surfacing in our state,” she said. "And that nurse practitioners in particular can really fill a niche in providing primary care access."

Soholt said she acknowledges that the Medical Board has concerns about allowing nurse practitioners more latitude in treating patients. She said the bill does not change the supervisory functions of medical doctors over nurse practitioners in their areas.

"No one can function independently. A nurse practitioner, a nurse midwife - they are Masters prepared, many are doctorally prepared. They have to have national certification, they have their own scope of practice,” Soholt said. "But they have to refer all the time to, like, family medicine physicians, for issues that are outside their scope of practice."

AARP South Dakota has endorsed the single-license concept. State Director Erik Gaikowski said it would help extend needed medical services to seniors and others in areas of the state that see shortages of medical professionals.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD