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DECEMBER 13, 2016 – In a victory for the nation’s nurse practitioners, the Department of Veterans Affairs is granting veterans direct access to advanced practice registered nurses .

The final regulations come at a critical time for nurse practitioners, which have doubled to more than 200,000 in the last decade and are looking to expand their ability to care for patients across the country. Meanwhile, the VA is working to engineer a turnaround after being accused of mismanagement and not promptly treating veterans who are known to wait days, weeks and even months for treatments and basic primary care services.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its medical regulations to permit full practice authority of three roles of VA advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) when they are acting within the scope of their VA employment,” the VA said in a summary of the final rule issued today. “This rule-making increases veterans’ access to VA healthcare by expanding the pool of qualified healthcare professionals who are authorized to provide primary healthcare and other related healthcare services to the full extent of their education, training and certification, without the clinical supervision of physicians.”

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