Development of draft regulations that maintain the original intent of HB 793 is vital--to lower barriers for NP practice in the state of Virginia. Healthcare access is a major issue in our country, especially for individuals living in rural areas or who are affected by health disparities such as poverty, low education levels, and little to no insurance. Nurse practitioners who are able to practice to the full extent of their training and education are an important way to increase healthcare access for underserved populations. There are major health crises in our nation, such as the opioid crisis, obesity epidemic, and aging population. Nurse practitioners are well prepared to address these concerns through our background in bedside patient care, our training that emphasizes patient education, therapeutic communication, and holistic care, and our ability to collaborate with other members of the healthcare team.
I have moved three times during my career as an NP. In two states, I could not practice unless I established agreements with physicians in the communities, which was extremely difficult without any history or work relationships in the areas. In order to work, I sought employment at existing health care practices with supervising physicians. These options provided me with great experience, but did not facilitate my goal to care for under- or uninsured populations. I believe that reducing barriers for NP practice will strengthen the healthcare workforce in Virginia, will improve healthcare access, and will address the major health issues in the Commonwealth and nationwide.