Health
4:11 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Bill proposes more authority for nurses with advanced degrees

A bill that would give nurses with advanced degrees more autonomy is coming up for debate in the Michigan House.

Nurse giving a shot
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Senate Bill 2 would give advanced practice registered nurses, also known as APRNs, the authority to write prescriptions and order tests without a doctor's approval.

The Affordable Care Act has led to more people seeking medical care. Also there is a physician shortage in rural parts of the state. This legislation aims to accommodate more of those additional people.

APRNs are required to hold master’s degrees or doctorates in addition to a four-year nursing degree. 

Nancy George is with the Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners. She said giving these nurses more authority will help more patients get care across the state. 

"So those cities that have a large Medicaid population are going to see the need for more primary care providers," said George. "So it’s a win-win all around."

Dr. Kenneth Elmassian is immediate past president of the Michigan State Medical Society. He is worried that nurses will want to practice independently of doctors as a result of the law. 

"And I think that’s where we have a problem, we don’t really see eye to eye on that," he said, adding,

"We think that we shouldn't be legislating medical degrees." 

He says without properly trained medical providers, treatment could become even slower for Michiganders.

The bill passed in the Senate last November but has yet to make it through the House.

– Reem Nasr, Michigan Radio Newsroom