Nursing disrespect and the Veterans Administration

Nursing disrespect and the Veterans Administration

The politicalization issues with our Veterans Administration healthcare woes misrepresents the role of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.

I am writing in regards to a Fox News story I viewed regarding the irresponsible portrayal of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and their role in caring for veterans in Veterans Administration Healthcare facilities. I am writing this not only from the perspective of an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) but also from the perspective of a retired military nurse and disabled combat veteran who is eligible to receive care in VA facilities.

First and foremost, the depiction of the role of an APRN is not accurate. Telling veterans that they will have to “settle for seeing a nurse” is misleading. Veterans will not be receiving primary healthcare from registered nurses as viewers were led to believe. Veterans will receive high quality care from APRNs who currently work within the VA healthcare system.

APRNs are highly trained and educated nurses with advanced degrees, either Master’s or Doctoral. Additionally, we are board certified in a specific specialty (adult, family, pediatrics, psych, critical care, anesthesia, etc.). We do not “act” like physicians because we are not physicians. We are integral members of the healthcare team, working interprofessionally and collaboratively to meet the needs of patients.

Our patient populations extend across the lifespan, in health care facilities as well as in communities and who are often underserved. Each state’s Board of Nursing regulates the scope of practice through licensure. In 2016, every state has deemed APRN scope of practice to include prescriptive authority commensurate with our education and training. Sadly, Florida, a state with one of the highest patient care burdens, was the last state in the Nation to grant this authority due to biases and misinformation much like what was has been depicted in this news story.

In response to Dr. Spagnolo’s claim that insinuates that nurses are not capable of assessing patients to determine critical needs, I ask him to remember who calls in the middle of the night to let him know when his patients are exhibiting those subtle cues. It’s the registered nurse who is at the bedside for 8 to 12 hours a day caring for our patient. The registered nurse is trained to assess and implement interventions and works collaboratively with all of the medical team to incorporate best practice and evidence-based care to improve patient outcomes.

APRNs incorporate the knowledge, experience, and training garnered as registered nurses as a basis for the care they provide as APRNs enhancing clinical assessment skills and diagnostic reasoning. The competent and holistic patient-centered care provided by registered nurses and APRNs, in and out of the VA, is why nursing has been rated the most honest and ethical profession for 14 years in a row (Gallup poll ranking honesty and ethics in various fields).

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