Beehive State becomes the 27th state to adopt Full Practice Authority.
Utah lawmakers' adoption of Full Practice Authority (FPA) eliminates hurdles for the Beehive State’s nurse practitioners (NPs) to set up their own practices.
When Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed Senate Bill 36 into law Thursday, capping a strong bipartisan effort to modernize outdated licensure laws for multiple professions, including NPs, Utah became the 27th state in the nation, along with the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories, to adopt FPA.
"We applaud Utah for recognizing the need to update laws and make the most of their healthcare workforce," said April Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).
"In the last two-and-a-half years, four other states have taken similar action. These changes will help Utah attract and retain nurse practitioners, and provide patients access to high-quality care,” Kapu said. “We thank Gov. Cox and the legislature for prioritizing patients and taking action to improve healthcare."
FPA is the authorization of NPs to evaluate patients, diagnose, order, and interpret diagnostic tests, and initiate and manage treatments under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing.
This regulatory framework eliminates requirements for NPs to hold a state-mandated contract with a physician as a condition of state licensure and to provide patient care.
Momentum for FPA increased during the pandemic, when states temporarily suspended practice agreements and allowed NPs to practice at the top of their education, giving patients direct access to care.
FPA makes a difference in the health of a state’s residents, Kapu noted.
“The states that have the healthiest outcome are states that have full practice authority,” Kapu said.
“Many of the states that have the lowest healthcare outcomes are states that still have restricted, outdated laws in place that are completely unnecessary, such as retrospective chart review or collaborative contracts where you have to pay fees,” she said. “Those fees can be a barrier to an NP being able to practice in the community.”
The National Academy of Medicine's The Future of Nursing 2020-2030 report recommends that nurses be allowed to "practice to the full extent of their education and training by removing barriers that prevent them from more fully addressing social needs and social determinants of health and improving healthcare access, quality, and value."
Utah is now part of an expanding list of states retiring outdated laws that have constrained their healthcare workforce and limited patient access to care, said Jon Fanning, MS, CAE, CNED, chief executive officer of AANP.
"Modernizing licensure laws is a no-cost, no-delay solution to strengthening the health of the nation,” Fanning said. “Decades of research show that states with Full Practice Authority are better positioned to improve access to care, grow their workforce, and address healthcare disparities, while delivering quality health outcomes for patients. We look forward to more states following suit."
“These changes will help Utah attract and retain nurse practitioners, and provide patients access to high-quality care.”
— April Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, president, AANP
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.
Utah is the 27th state to enact FPA legislation.
FPA has bipartisan support in Utah.
FPA will help Utah attract and retain nurse practitioners.