In Michigan, proponents brought attention to a bill that would, in part, eliminate a physician supervision requirement on nurse anesthetists.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Michigan State Rep. Mary Whiteford, BSN, RN, had, as Whiteford said, “overwhelming” support, passing by a vote of 82-25 in the Michigan House in March and the Senate in June. The bill was approved by the governor of Michigan in July.
It’s just one of several pieces of nursing legislation — at the state and national levels — that could open doors of opportunity for nurses.
A Collaborative Effort in Michigan
Whiteford, who said she has maintained her nursing license while serving in the Michigan House, said that without the changes in the bill she sponsored, nurse anesthetists would need to be supervised “by any doctor at all.” That could include podiatrists, surgeons, or dentists.
She said the changes would have “probably the biggest impact in areas that can’t keep anesthesiologists on call 24 hours and improves access, improves flexibility.”
The bill was supported by the Michigan Association of Nurse Anesthetists, however, there was opposition from the Michigan State Medical Society. That organization’s president, S. Bobby Mukkamala, MD, wrote an op-ed in the Detroit News. It noted that the bill “would remove physician involvement in anesthesia care,” and went further to call it, “a dangerous approach.”
The Nurse Licensure Compact
In more than a dozen states, there is active nursing legislation that could lead to joining the Nurse Licensure Compact. It allows for nurses to have a multistate license with the ability to practice in all compact states.
According to the Nurse Licensure Compact Facebook page, there are now 38 jurisdictions in the compact, Ohio and Pennsylvania legislatures being the latest to pass the compact. The compacts in each state were both signed into law by the states’ respective governors on July 1, 2021.
Prevention and Public Health Fund
The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners is among the organizations that support U.S. Senate Bill 571, which would “fully fund the Prevention and Public Health Fund.” It also would “reaffirm the importance of prevention in the United States healthcare system,” according to Jessica Peck, DNP, APRN, CPNP-PC, CNE, CNL, FAANP, FAAN, President of NAPNAP.
Peck noted that the fund was created in the Affordable Care Act but was “never fully funded at its authorized level.” Doing so would “enable nurses and pediatric APRNs to improve preventative care by increasing the resources for community health programs and practices.”
Peck said nurses and pediatric APRNs are facing “dramatically increased challenges” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources from the fund would “help communities and practices increase immunizations and ensure that children are able to return to school safely,” she continued.
The bill was introduced in March and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Workplace Violence Prevention
In February, Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney re-introduced legislation aimed at reducing workplace violence faced by healthcare employees, including nurses. In a news release, Courtney stated that “it’s time we ensure workplaces take the steps we know work to avoid” such incidents.
The legislation seeks to direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue standards requiring health care and social service employers to write and implement a workplace violence prevention plan.
The bill, which is supported by the American Nurses Association, Emergency Nurses Association and National Nurses United, among other organizations – passed the House in April. The Senate then referred the bill to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
How to Get Involved
Nurses can learn about nursing legislation and healthcare legislation that affects their profession via national and state nursing association or their specialty organizations. For instance, the American Nurses Association provides information on policies and legislation that it supports and why. The Emergency Nurses Association also shares its public policy agenda on its website.
If you have interest in specific legislation, you can contact those who are in a position to help approve or defeat it. That might be a governor, a U.S. representative or senator, or a state representative or senator.
Take these courses related to public health and workplace violence:
Preventing Violence in the Healthcare Setting
(1 contact hr)
Violence in healthcare settings reflects the chaos of a broader work environment. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health defines workplace violence as “violent acts (including physical assaults and threats of assaults) directed toward persons at work or on duty.” Nurses heighten their awareness and expertise in dealing with violence in their professional settings by learning to identify risk factors and warning signs, and by applying interventions that can shield their patients and themselves from harm.
(1 contact hr)
Population health takes a broad view that looks beyond a group of patients or clients in a practice setting and considers a group of people in a similar geographical area or those with a similar disease or health need. This module discusses what population health is, whom population health interventions reach, and the role nurses have in population health.
The Healthcare Reform Act: What It Means for Nurses
(1 contact hr)
Over the course of history in the United States multiple public health programs have been initiated. However, the predominance of quality, coverage, and affordability issues are emerged more strongly in the 21th century. Health policy is an increasingly significant priority at the state and national level due to the unsustainable cost of healthcare. This course will help nurses understand healthcare reform and be informed participants in its implementation.