Montgomery, AL -- Historic legislation was signed into law today following a unanimous vote in May that will allow for the expansion of privileges to increase prescriptive authority for nurse practitioners in Alabama.
Senators Greg Reed, Dale Marsh and Jabo Waggoner along with Representative Ron Johnson introduced the bills which were strongly supported by the Alabama Medical Association, the Board of Medical Examiners, and the Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Alabama.
With Alabama facing a growing shortage of primary health care providers, nurse practitioners may be part of the solution to the growing demand. Alabama has approximately 2000 nurse practitioners in practice and the number is growing annually.
The president of the Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Alabama (NPAA), Joy P. Deupree, PhD and nurse practitioner, reported “with the passage of this legislation many believe more nurse practitioners (NPs) will be employed in Alabama to help with the growing demand”. Dr. Deupree explained that decades of research demonstrate that nurse practitioners provide high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered health care with excellent outcomes.
Dr. Deupree goes on to report “NPs in Alabama must be in a collaborative relationship with a physician in order to be licensed to practice in Alabama”, “through inter-professional collaboration, NPs are just another part of the health care team to provide quality care to the citizens in Alabama”.
With advanced degrees at the Master’s and Doctoral levels, the nation’s 165,000 nurse practitioners are skilled diagnosticians and clinicians who treat acute and chronic illness and prescribe medications. Eighty-nine percent specialize in primary care fields, including gerontology, pediatrics, women’s health and family care. Many work in under-served rural communities. The extent to which NPs can practice autonomously, however, varies widely from state to state and is governed by state regulations and law. “Until this law was passed, Alabama was one of the most restrictive states in the US which was a barrier causing a stronghold on NPs expanding to rural underserved areas,” reports Deupree.