The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently proposed a regulation that would grant full practice authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) when they are acting within the scope of their VA employment (https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2016-12338.pdf).
I have witnessed how important a regulation like this is to providing quality patient-centered care to our nation’s veterans. While I served in the VA in upstate New York—a state that still requires physician oversight—I saw high turnover among the psychiatrists who worked in the substance abuse treatment specialty area. Because of this, care was often insufficient and incomplete.
During my time, I was able to teach veterans about brain-based substance and mental disorders, help them understand why reducing alcohol and drug use was important to their health, and how behavioral interventions and mutual support programs could work to promote their recovery.
Allowing full practice authority for APRNs is crucial to expanding treatment and ensuring high-quality care. I endorse the VA’s proposal for expanded practice, and I encourage all nurses to do the same.
The Veterans Health Administration is soliciting public comment through July 25 on this proposed rule, and I encourage nurses, veterans, and all who are interested to leave a comment of support for this important proposal. Let’s stand together in helping our veterans and empowering our nurses.
Submit your response:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DEBORAH FINNELL @dsfinnell
Deborah Finnell, DNS, PMHNP-BC, CARN-AP, FAAN, is an associate professor and director of the master’s and DNP programs at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She has specialized in mental health and addictions for the majority of her career, and she brings her passion for the neurological bases of mental health and addictions to her clinical practice, teaching, research, and policy/advocacy.