How Covid-19 Has Impacted The Scope Of Practice For Nurse Practitioner

Locum Tenens News >> How Covid-19 Has Impacted The Scope Of Practice For Nurse Practitioner

The world has never been the same, ever since the outbreak of the Coronavirus early this year, especially within the workforce industry.

What we considered to be the norm is no longer the norm. As the virus continues to linger, we may even start to consider the way we live now as normal. Although everyone around the world has been affected by the pandemic, the ones that have been affected the most are medical professionals. After all, doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers are in the frontlines of combating the virus by treating infected patients.

Scope of Practice Changes for Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners are very similar to registered nurses (RN). The major difference between the two is that nurse practitioners (NP for short) have a higher degree in the medical field, along with the additional National Board Certification.

Some of the responsibilities of Nurse Practitioners are assessing their patients, performing diagnostics and laboratory tests, managing treatments and prescribing medication, coordinating patient care, and giving counsels regarding healthcare. As you can figure, the duties of NP’s are a combination of the duties of RN’s and doctors.

So when comparing nurse practitioners and registered nurses, NP’s have more responsibilities than Registered Nurses, but both have less authority than a doctor. However, nurse practitioners start as a registered nurse, and study similar subjects in their advance degrees as doctors, hence why their duties are almost on par. You can also find NPs in every medical setting, such as large or small hospitals, private or public clinics, and even in medical facilities in rural areas.

How has the scope of practice for NPs been affected?

Due to the unfortunate and devastating pandemic that suddenly struck the world, the medical industry was shocked in all aspects. This sudden change caused many medical practices to adjust to the fast-paced situation. Without a cure for the virus and without much knowledge of the infection itself, thousands of patients had to be addressed quickly. As you can imagine, one could only do the best they could with the knowledge they have.

Nurse practitioners are licensed professionals, so they work within their given scope of practice. To avoid going over their duties or what they’re licensed to do, they must work within the rules and regulations of the state they’re licensed in. Although it is always a great thing to follow policies and procedures, when it comes to unpredictable situations and circumstances that are unexpected, then these protocols can be quite restricting.

In some cases, restrictions can prevent one to do what may need to be done to address the current concern. This is why the AANP, short for American Association of Nurse Practitioners, has been working diligently to allow NPs to have more authority in exercising their full expertise and duties without being restricted to follow the state’s regulations.

What benefits are there in giving NPs full authority?

The AANP also serves as the association that conducts a yearly session of assessing the safe practices, high-quality services, cost-effective means, and patient-centered care that NPs are supposed to have. In addition, they also undergo research to determine what changes to make regarding these aspects, so that nurse practitioners are always kept up-to-date with current medical practices and safety.

In addressing the Covid-19 pandemic concerns, it would be best if nurse practitioners could freely do what they are capable of doing. After all, they are licensed and educated to fulfill their roles. By having barriers in place at a time such as this, it may only cause more harm than good. When things are happening at a fast-paced, it might be wise to drop certain barriers so that long procedures don’t hinder the needed care for patients.

The AANP and other similar organizations such as the ANA (American Nurses Association) and APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurses) – which also includes nurse practitioners, are advocating for this cause as well. If more health practitioners can utilize their full abilities without having to comply with too strict rules and regulations, then more patients may be taken care of.

Will the changes work in combating the virus?

Besides wanting to make NPs available for anyone, there is a lot more work to do to address the many and new concerns of a virus without a cure. The governors of Louisiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and New York have already temporarily suspended their state barriers so that nurse practitioners could work at their full capacity. As a result, hospitals and clinics have been able to address the great surge of patients and treat those who have been infected much sooner. Laboratory testing also improved and a greater focus on patient care was better achieved.

There are almost 300,000 licensed nurse practitioners in the US. As well as being RN’s and similar to doctors, you can imagine just how effective the health care industry would be if these highly trained professionals were given full authority to exercise their abilities. Because NPs are available in all medical settings, AANP and other supporting organizations can only hope to finally gain the approval of dropping the barriers from all US states.

Unfortunately, it may be a while until a cure for the virus comes out. So, in the meantime, health professionals can only address the situation at hand, such as to treat infected patients and prevent the virus from spreading. But, with fewer barriers in place, the time spent on following these rules and regulations would certainly be directed to more concerning factors like the high surges of patients in areas where cases are much larger.


The coronavirus has been merciless since the rapid spreading around the world. It has changed everyone’s lives in unexpected ways, and made places of work much more difficult for front liners. With that being said, if all the states in America were to drop their barriers, then nurse practitioners, as well as other health professionals, would also achieve the results that some states have already accomplished.

Tags: Covid-19 , Nurse Practitioner

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