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Commentary: Nurses can’t substitute for doctors

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Posted: Sunday, May 4, 2014 6:45 pm | Updated: 9:23 am, Mon May 5, 2014.

Recently, the New York State Legislature passed a bill granting nurse practitioners the right to provide primary care without physician oversight. New York joins 16 other states and the District of Columbia in awarding such autonomy. (Most states still require nurse practitioners to work with physicians under a written practice agreement.) The bill’s authors contend that mandatory collaboration with a physician “no longer serves a clinical purpose” and reduces much-needed access to primary care.

Support for such measures has been widespread. Four years ago, the Institute of Medicine called for dropping regulations that prevented nurses from practicing “to the full extent of their education and training.” Last year, the president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners argued that the current diversity of health professionals rendered “hierarchical, physician-centric structures unnecessary.”

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