Award-Winning Pennsylvania Nurse Stymied by Antiquated Law

This is Part 1 of our special two-part series about scope of practice regulations for nurse practitioners (NPs). Full practice authority permits nurse practitioners, who are nurses with advanced degrees, to deliver healthcare without unnecessary barriers or restrictions. Currently, 26 states across the United States grant full practice authority for NPs.

In this episode, we hear from Lynn Heard DNP, CRNP, a family nurse practitioner and longtime school nurse. She’s based in Pennsylvania, a reduced practice state, meaning NPs must have a collaborative agreement with two physicians in order to prescribe medicine and provide their full spectrum of care. At the start of the pandemic, Heard lost her collaborative agreement after the physician she worked with closed down their practice. Since then, she’s had trouble finding new physicians to collaborate with and has scaled back her family practice considerably.

We also hear from Bonnie McFarland and Susan Donces, two of Heard’s longtime patients. Since Lynn does not have a collaborating physician, McFarland can no longer see her and refuses to choose a new primary care provider. Donces continues to see Heard as her primary healthcare provider, but she cannot receive prescribed medication.

Pictured with Dr. Heard (right) are Bonnie McFarland (left) and Susan Donces (left), two of Heard’s longtime patients.

Part 2 of our special coverage will discuss the broader scope of practice trends across the country. Joining us for that conversation are Pennsylvania State Senator Camera Bartolotta to talk about removing barriers to care here in Pennsylvania, along with nurse practitioner and state policy expert Tay Kopanos from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

To learn more about full practice authority, listen to our previous episode, The Fight for Full Practice Authority in Pennsylvania, which features various NPs who are advocating for themselves and their patients.

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