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Poll: NC Caregivers Support Nurse-Led Health-Care Practices

A survey by AARP North Carolina found more than 90% of respondents rated their visit with an advanced-practice registered nurse as "good" or "excellent." (AdobeStock)
A survey by AARP North Carolina found more than 90% of respondents rated their visit with an advanced-practice registered nurse as "good" or "excellent." (AdobeStock)
April 24, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. - More than 80% of family caregivers in North Carolina support legislation that would allow advanced-practice registered nurses to offer primary care without physician oversight, according to a new survey by AARP North Carolina.

A bill known as the SAVE Act would lift state restrictions that now require APRNs, like nurse practitioners, to be supervised by a physician instead of being able to practice independently. Health-care options in rural communities already are scarce, and doctors are in short supply.

Gaylene Miller, AARP North Carolina interim director, said APRNs can make life easier for working caregivers and people living in rural areas.

"If I need to take my mom to the doctor, if I have to take her to the doctor in Charlotte and I live in Statesville, the problem is, I have to take a day off work, I lose a day of pay," she said, "when in fact, if I could see a nurse practitioner, that would make it much easier for me to take her, say, on my lunch hour, or before I go to work."

Physicians' groups in the state have argued that patient safety is at stake. The SAVE Act was introduced this session as House Bill 185 by Rep. Josh Dobson, R-Marion, and Senate Bill 143 by Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Spruce Pine. The bills have bipartisan support.

Miller said at least 20 states currently allow APRNs to have either a full primary-care practice or semi-restricted practice. She said the SAVE Act isn't intended to exceed what APRNs have been trained to do.

"Sometimes, I don't think folks understand what a nurse practitioner actually is, and they're really a resource for us here in North Carolina and across the country," she said. "These are nurses who either have a master's degree or a doctoral-level education that really prepares them to provide that advanced health-care service - in particular, primary care and preventive care."

The survey also found that North Carolinians are happy with the health care they've received from an APRN. More than 90% of respondents rated their visit as "good" or "excellent."

Texts are online for HB 185 and SB 143.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC