Press Room

Allowing Clinical Nurse Specialists Full Scope of Practice Improves Care for Our Veterans

“The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) applauds the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for amending its medical regulations and allowing full practice authority of all VA clinical nurse specialists when they are acting within the scope of their VA employment.

Granting full-practice authority to clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), nurse practitioners and nurse midwives will immediately expand the pool of qualified health professionals and improve access to vital health care services for our nation’s veterans.

Every day across this country, CNSs provide expert care to patients and their families, support nurses caring for patients at the bedside, help drive practice changes throughout their organizations, and ensure the use of best practices and evidence-based care to achieve the best possible patient outcomes.

Allowing clinical nurse specialists and other advance practice registered nurses (APRNs) full practice authority at the VA is consistent with the nursing profession’s standards of practice and the seminal 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine on the Future of Nursing.

While we’re pleased that the VA will allow most advance practice registered nurses to practice to the full scope of their education and training without the clinical supervision of physicians, we are disappointed that the VA did not extend the regulation to certified registered nurse anesthetists. We will be issuing a public comment and urge the VA to extend full scope of practice to certified registered nurse anesthetists.

Other states should follow the VA’s lead and allow CNSs and all APRNs to practice to the full extent of their education and training. If every health care setting employed CNSs, more of the care provided would be based on research and best practices, our health care system would be more efficient, and we would all be healthier.”

Sharon Horner, PhD, RN, MC-CNS, FAAN is the President of the 2016-2017 NACNS Board of Directors.

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