The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the nation’s largest professional organization representing nurse practitioners (NPs), is asking Congress to strengthen patient access to vital health care services. Over 300 members will be in attendance, serving as the voice of 205,000 nurse practitioners around the nation.

In today’s meetings with Congress, AANP’s present members will be providing personal insight on health care challenges being faced all over the US. They will bring awareness to the members of Congress to support health care priorities in combatting chronic disease, substance abuse, and patient access to primary, acute, and specialty health care services in rural and urban communities.

Currently only 21 states and the District of Columbia grant full practice authority to NPs. Nurse practitioners are growing in popularity, but it hasn’t been enough to grant them full practice authority nationwide. In states where licensed and fully trained NPs are not being allowed to practice at their full education and training levels, many citizens are missing out on access to care. At a time when primary care shortages are so prevalent, every capable provider is needed to reach patient needs.

By 2025, the number of licensed nurse practitioners in the US is expected to rise from 205,000 to 244,000, a statistic released by AANP. This growth prediction is based on the increase in baby boomers and the millions of new patients who have entered the American healthcare system under the Affordable Care Act. With 80% of NPs being educated in primary care programs, and 49% of those entering into family practices, nationwide full practice authority will increase access to care everywhere, especially for underserved communities.

Across the country nurse practitioners serve as primary, acute, and specialty care providers. They have a wide range of abilities including assessing, ordering, and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory tests; making diagnoses; initiating and managing treatment plans; prescribing medications and nonpharmacological treatment; and counseling patients and their families.

AANP is also involved in providing legislative leadership at local, state, and national levels. Their legislative involvement allows for advancing health policies, promoting education and research, and establishing best practice standards for nurse practitioners and their patients. The role of AANP is to provide a networking platform for nurse practitioners and advocate for their role as providers of high quality, cost effective, comprehensive, patient-centered, and personalized health care all over the country.

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