Gov. Jack Markell holds up the freshly signed legislation.

Nursing autonomy

New state of Delaware legislation gives nurses more autonomy


11:24 a.m., Sept. 3, 2015--Delaware Gov. Jack Markell visited the University of Delaware Health Sciences Complex on the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus on Tuesday to sign a pair of senate bills – SB57 and SB101 – that give Delaware advance practice nurses more independence. 

Markell was joined by State Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, other bill co-sponsors, and UD’s nursing community. 

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Nurses were visibly moved as Markell announced that the bills were officially the law of the land, recognizing their capacity to provide high quality health care as independent health care providers. 

“Today is a wonderful day for Delaware and today is a wonderful day for nurses,” said Emily Hauenstein, Unidel Katherine L. Esterly Chair in Health Sciences and senior associate dean for nursing and health care innovation in the College of Health Sciences. 

So what do these state bills mean for the future of health care and nursing? In addition to updating requirements for licensure and prescriptions, Senate Bill 57 modernizes the title of Advanced Practice Nurse to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRNs). And Senate Bill 101 includes provisions regarding the scope of practice for APRNs, allowing APRNs with advanced experience to provide care autonomously, without the requirement of a collaborative physician agreement. The bill will enable APRNs to operate at the top of their licenses, referring to and collaborating with specialty physicians as appropriate to provide high-quality, safe, and holistic patient care.

“This launches Delaware ahead as nurses around the state can now practice more independently,” said Hall-Long, who is a professor in UD’s School of Nursing. “Hopefully, this legislation will serve as a model for other states.” 

Article by Dante LaPenta

Photos by Doug Baker

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