Advanced practice nurses urge state to grant them more authority amid crisis

By Andy Miller and Judi Kanne

Shannon Whitten has worked as a rural nurse practitioner for 20 years in Sandersville, in eastern Georgia.

She’s an advanced practice registered nurse, also known as an APRN. Some of her colleagues at the same level have been recruited by New York to help out during the city’s COVID-19 crisis, Whitten says.

She notes that APRNs can work in the Big Apple without supervision by a doctor. But they cannot do so here.

“Georgia’s APRN practice laws remain some of the nation’s most restrictive,’’ Whitten says.

“Georgia law mandates that APRNs have a protocol agreement with a supervising physician and extra additional supervision requirements.”

Georgia’s APRNs have asked Gov. Brian Kemp to temporarily suspend the state’s restrictions on them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As businesses begin to reopen across Georgia, it is likely we will see an increase in diagnosed COVID-19 cases,” says Michelle Nelson, a Georgia State University nursing professor and co-director of the Georgia Coalition of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.

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