In an effort to increase access to primary care and decrease waiting times for our nation's veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has granted veterans direct access to its estimated 5,000 advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). In recent years, the VA has been mired by accusations of mismanagement, as it became know that some veterans had to wait days, weeks and even months for treatment and basic primary care. Health care organizations, like ENA, commented this summer in support of the rule providing advance practice nurses, such as nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists, with full practice authority at VA. These groups argued, successfully, that these professionals can help improve access to high-quality care for veterans.
"This rule-making increases veterans' access to VA healthcare by expanding the pool of qualified healthcare professionals who are authorized to provide primary healthcare and other related healthcare services to the full extent of their education, training, and certification, without the clinical supervision of physicians," the VA said in a summary of the final rule.