ISSUE | HEALTH CARE

Give nurse-practitioners full practice authority

Nurse-practitioners are registered nurses with advanced graduate education and the skills to diagnose and treat common, chronic, and acute conditions ("Expanding the role of nurse- practitioners," Aug. 28). NPs have been diagnosing and prescribing medications in Pennsylvania for years, but now they may not assess and treat patients or prescribe medication without a formal collaborative physician agreement.

Full-practice authority means that an experienced NP could practice without a collaborative agreement. NPs in 21 states and the District of Columbia have full-practice authority. Despite being the most restrictive full-practice legislation in the country, state Senate Bill 717 would promote full-practice authority. New NPs would be required to have a collaborative agreement with two physicians for the first 3,600 hours of practice.

Dr. Scott Shapiro, president of the state Medical Society, opposes full-practice authority. The longstanding attempt to control NPs under the guise of patient safety continues.

|B. Karen Coyne, certified registered nurse practitioner, Conshohocken

Nursing profs needed

Our country has a shortage of doctorate-prepared faculty to teach record numbers of nursing students ("Wanted: More professors to teach nursing," Aug. 24). In a time of unprecedented change in health care, with millions more accessing care, we must cultivate a new generation of bold nurse leaders to create real transformational change.

That's why, for more than a decade, Independence Blue Cross - and, more recently through its foundation - has partnered with 22 nursing programs, including Widener University, and invested nearly $20 million in undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral scholarships, as well as student-nurse internships.

With their experience and deep connections to patients and families, nurses are critical to helping ensure that health care is safe, accessible, and high quality. Doctorate-prepared nurse scientists and researchers, in particular, are perfectly positioned to look for and find solutions to serious problems that affect the lives of thousands of consumers.

|Lorina Marshall-Blake, president, Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Philadelphia, lorina.marshall@ibx.com