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Most in CA Think Nurse Practitioners Should Have Full Practice Authority

PHOTO: Legislation under consideration in California would give nurse practitioners full practice authority. Photo credit: Brandon Flint/AARP
PHOTO: Legislation under consideration in California would give nurse practitioners full practice authority. Photo credit: Brandon Flint/AARP
June 17, 2015

Three in four Californians supports the right of nurse practitioners to function as primary-care providers instead of having to work under the supervision of a doctor, according to a new AARP survey.

AARP California supports state Senate Bill 323, which would expand nurse-practitioner responsibilities. The group's advocacy director, Blanca Castro, says the state's 18,000 nurse practitioners already have the training to handle routine medical care.

"Nurse practitioners will be able to do physical exams, review tests, refer patients to specialists and help with chronic-disease management," she said.

Castro said the change would ease California's shortage of primary-care providers. Nineteen other states have similar laws.

Opponents, including the California Society of Plastic Surgeons, say it's dangerous to have nurse practitioners doing a physician's job. Castro counters that patient safety is not at risk.

"You have professionals who have gone to extensive education," she said. "They're also licensed, and they are still working in collaboration with the doctors who are specialists."

SB 323 passed the state Senate overwhelmingly a few weeks ago and will be heard in an Assembly committee at the end of June.

Details of SB 323 are online at leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA