Nurse Practitioners Granted Full Practice Authority In Massachusetts

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Nurse Practitioners in Massachusetts started the new year with the legal ability to prescribe medications without the oversight of a supervising physician.

On January 1st, Massachusetts became the 23rd state in the nation to pass legislation granting Full Practice Authority for NP's when Governor Charlie Baker signed into law "An Act Promoting a Resilient Health Care System That Puts Patients First," making permanent the changes granted by his executive order during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

According to the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners, the 22 other states that have granted Full Practice Authority for NP's have witnessed an increase in the number of practicing nurse practitioners, with expanded health care access for rural and vulnerable populations.

"The care provided by nurse practitioners has increased the frequency of routine checkups, lower hospitalization rates and significantly fewer ER visits for non-emergencies," the MCNP said. "This change in Massachusetts will help address inequities in access to care for vulnerable populations, improve access to behavioral health services and decrease healthcare costs."

Nurse Practitioners are registered nurses with advanced master’s or doctoral level education and national certification in advanced practice nursing specialties. The MCNP said NP's provide comprehensive health care services including performing physical examinations, ordering, and interpreting diagnostic tests, and treating and managing acute, episodic, and chronic conditions.

While nurse practitioners in Massachusetts previously had legal authority to prescribe medications, Massachusetts regulations required a supervising physician to oversee their prescribing practices. With full practice authority, this will no longer be necessary.

Chris Malagrida, President of the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners, called it "a great day" for patients throughout the Commonwealth.

MCNP State Legislative Policy Director Stephanie Ahmed said by signing the law, the Massachusetts House, Senate and Baker Administration have positioned Massachusetts nurse practitioners to contribute to the state’s overarching health reform goals, and to be utilized more effectively on the frontlines of healthcare.

"We are grateful to Governor Baker and the legislative leaders who were able to pass this landmark legislation during such a challenging session and in particular to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka and Healthcare Conference Committee Co-Chairs Representative Ron Mariano and Senator Cindy Friedman for their thoughtful considerations on this issue," Ahmed said.

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Written by Brit Smith

(Photo: Getty Images)

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