The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) today congratulates Robert McDonald on his new role as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and urges him to increase veterans' access to nurse practitioners by utilizing them as full partners in the VA health care delivery system.
AANP president Ken Miller, PhD, RN, CFNP, FAAN, FAANP, offered the following statement: "Improving veterans' access to high quality medical care will be an important undertaking in the new administration. Nurse practitioners are willing and able to assist in increasing veterans' access to the medical care they deserve. Together we can accomplish this mission. In that light, AANP calls upon Secretary McDonald to hire more nurse practitioners and move forward to modernize the VA nursing handbook granting advanced practice registered nurses, including nurse practitioners, full-practice authority throughout the VA system.
"In all 50 states, nurse practitioners are proven to improve patient access to timely, high-quality care, and that's exactly what's needed at the VA today," said Miller. "We therefore strongly encourage Secretary McDonald to hire more nurse practitioners and allow them all to practice to the full extent of their education and preparation."
More than 50 years of peer-reviewed, independent research has shown nurse practitioners to be safe and cost-effective clinicians, with patient outcomes similar and sometimes better than those of physicians. In addition, renowned national policy organizations and government bodies have taken notice of outdated regulations and a half century of third party research that demonstrates their worth as high-quality health care providers. These groups (the Federal Trade Commission, the Institute of Medicine, the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures and AARP) all call for removing barriers to nurse practitioner practice.
Nurse practitioners play a critical role in health care delivery across the nation. They are the health care providers of choice for millions of patients; more than 900 million visits were made to nurse practitioners in the United States in 2013.
The vast majority of nurse practitioners are primary care providers. Eighty-eight percent are prepared to be primary care clinicians and over seventy-five percent currently practice in primary care settings. Currently, more than 5,000 advanced practice registered nurses, the majority of whom are nurse practitioners, successfully provide health care to veterans in VA facilities.
In addition to treating acute and chronic illnesses of patients, nurse practitioners emphasize health promotion and disease prevention in all their activities. Daily practice includes assessment; ordering, performing, supervising and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory tests; making diagnoses; initiating and managing treatment, which includes prescribing medications as well as non-pharmacologic treatments; counseling; and educating patients, their families and communities.
American Association of Nurse Practitioners