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    Study supports APRN independence, cites improved outcomes

    Patients fare better when nurse practitioners are able to exercise the full extent of their skills, according to a new report.

    The study, published in Nursing Outlook, revealed a “significant relationship” between the full practice of nurse practitioners and decreased hospitalization rates for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. University of Missouri (MU) researchers say the study supports assertions that advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) can help relieve the shortage of healthcare workers and provide much-needed care to underserved populations.

    “APRNs have graduate-level educations; when you get APRNs into nursing homes, they help improve the overall quality of care because they have advanced knowledge of the best evidence-based practice,” says Marilyn Rantz, Curators’ Professor and Helen E. Nahm chair in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. “In states where APRNs practice independently, health outcomes are better, Medicare and Medicaid outcomes for older adults are better, and costs are lower. Hospitalizations also decrease.”

    For the study, researchers analyzed data from states based on varying degrees of APRN independence. Unlike Missouri, which is a restrictive state when it comes to APRN practice, states that supported independent APRNs achieved greater improvements in quality of care and health outcomes.

    “The movement for unrestricted APRN practice nationwide is happening right now,” Rantz says, “More and more states are changing their laws because they’ve seen the improvements. They’re looking ahead to the future and providing access to care.”

    The full study can be found at http://www.nursingoutlook.org/article/S0029-6554(14)00150-X/abstract.

    Rachael Zimlich, RN
    Ms Zimlich is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio. She writes regularly for Contemporary Pediatrics, Managed Healthcare Executive, and ...

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