Press Room

Clinical Nurse Specialists Leader Commends Congress for ‘Potentially Life-Saving Move’ in Allowing APRNs to Prescribe Buprenorphine

Statement of National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) Board President Anne Hysong, MSN, APRN, CCNS, ACNS-BC

“Congress took a vitally important step to reduce the terrible toll our country’s opioid crisis is taking by expanding the health care providers who can treat opioid use disorder by prescribing buprenorphine. Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are among the advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) added to the list of buprenorphine-prescribing providers in the legislation the conference committee reported. This is a potentially life-saving move that will allow CNSs to use their skills, expertise and clinical knowledge to help end this devastating condition.

Clinical nurse specialists have prescriptive authority in 39 states and are well-positioned to provide this critical therapy, as well as the counseling and behavioral interventions that are shown to be effective in treating opioid use disorder. According to SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older who had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin. They need the help CNSs and APRNs will now be able to provide.

We commend the conference committee for including this provision and urge both chambers to pass the final bill quickly, and President Trump to waste no time in signing it into law.

There is no question that opioid use is a public health emergency and tapping the vast expertise of highly educated nurses to address it is essential. CNSs work at the bedside and beyond and often witness first-hand the heartbreaking toll opioid misuse and abuse has on patients and families. All APRNs have graduate-level education and CNSs are uniquely positioned to help reduce inappropriate or unsafe opioid use while supporting effective, multi-modal pain management. Tapping their potential to help address this devastating problem only makes sense.

The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists position papers on opioids are available here.”

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Founded in 1995, The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists is the only association representing the clinical nurse specialist (CNS). CNSs are advanced practice registered nurses who work in a variety of specialties to ensure high-quality, evidence-based, patient-centered care. As leaders in health care settings, CNSs provide direct patient care and lead initiatives to improve care and clinical outcomes, and reduce costs. NACNS is dedicated to advancing CNS practice and education, removing certification and regulatory barriers, and assuring the public access to quality CNS services.

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