Nurses Petition Fox News to Run Follow-Up Report After Attack on Nurses Regarding VA Proposal to Grant Full Practice Authority to APRNs

Nurses Petition Fox News to Run Follow-Up Report After Attack on Nurses Regarding VA Proposal to Grant Full Practice Authority to APRNs

Following a proposed rule change from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to allow full practice authority to all VA advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) when acting within the scope of their VA employment, Fox News hosted a video report with the headline “Vets may have to settle for a visit with the nurse at the VA.” The report from Fox was initiated by a press conference where several physician anesthesiologist groups voiced strong objections to the proposed ruling by the VA. Fox News was also aware of a strong rebuttal to physicians’ arguments from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) which Fox ignored, failing to convey in their report that advanced practice nurses like nurse practitioners (NPs) are graduate-educated health professionals with independent licenses and an autonomous nursing practice model that is broader and more holistic than the medical model.

The bitter debate over the roles of doctors and nurses is not a new one, and the VA proposal has only further sparked the argument. Many of the country’s largest doctors’ groups have argued that the VA proposal would lower the standard of care for veterans and that all patients deserve access to physician expertise. These arguments caused intervention from nursing groups like the American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), and AANA. AANA President, Juan Quintana, believes the solution to improve health care for veterans doesn’t involve increasing budgets or staff; it is as simple as removing barriers that prevent advanced practice nurses from practicing to the full extent of their education, training, and certification. ANA also stepped up to state that the longstanding limits on the scope of care for nurses with advanced training is what has harmed veterans in the past because staff shortages lead to backlogs and growing wait lists.

The proposed VA specific rule is intended to increase veterans’ access to VA health care by providing a larger pool of qualified health care professionals who are authorized to provide primary care and other related health care services to the full extent of their education, training, and certification without clinical supervision from physicians. Allowing APRNs full practice authority to provide primary care to veterans is a more effective use of VA resources in a manner consistent with the role of APRNS in non-VA health care sectors while maintaining the patient-centered, safe, and high-quality health care that veterans receive from the VA.

If the proposed rule change is approved, the VA will be following the lead of the military and 21 states plus the District of Columbia that have expanded the scope of practice for their nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, and nurse anesthetists in a variety of fields. The VA is looking to expand the role of their APRNs to meet the needs of a growing veteran population from the Vietnam era and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined with a shortage of physicians on staff. Nurse practitioners are trained to provide many of the same primary care functions as doctors but state laws prohibit them from diagnosing, prescribing drugs, and providing other services. After ongoing scandals regarding long waits for veterans to schedule medical appointments, this new proposed change ensures that the VA has the authority to address these scandals caused by staffing shortages.

An organization called The Truth About Nursing whose mission is to challenge stereotypes and educate the world about the value of nursing started a petition urging Fox News to apologize for its biased report and make amends with a follow-up video report. The Truth About Nursing wants the follow-up report to include military veteran and AANA President Juan Quintana, RN, DNP, CRNA, in order to allow nurses to defend themselves and spread public knowledge about research showing that nurses are safe and effective scientific professionals.