New law would allow nurse practitioners to practice independently

Nurse practitioners (file photo)
Nurse practitioners (file photo)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)–A law that would change the health care landscape in Connecticut was on its way to the Governor’s desk on Monday.

The law would allow nurse practitioners to practice on their own, independently of doctors.

The law comes at a time when the state is facing a shortage of primary care physicians. The bill was given final approval in the House on Monday and will allow nurse practitioners to treat patients and prescribe medications without having a collaborative agreement with a physician.

Several states have already done this in the name of making primary health care available to more people.

Representative Peggy Sayers has been an R.N. for more than 50 years.

“We have over 200,000 people that have signed up for the Affordable Care Act, and so there is a very great need to have primary practitioners in the state of Connecticut,” Sanders said.

Representative Theresa Conroy has been a nurse practitioner for 11 years, and has been trying to get this bill passed for the past two years.

“Right now we don’t have a lot of primary care physicians. Nurse Practitioners have been trained for this. They go through a masters degree program, they take board certification in their specialties,” Conroy said.

But the Connecticut State Medical Society, while not opposed to the idea, says there are problems with the proposal.

The new law would still require nurse practitioners to have a collaborative agreement with a physician during their first three years of work, then they could go out on their own.

“If you collaborated with a physician who is a dermatologist or an orthopedic surgeon, should you be practicing in psychiatry?” asked Dr. Courtland Lewis of the state Medical Society. “There are no protections in the bill as it stands to protect against that.”

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