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Arkansas allows nurse practitioners full practice authority

“To have full practice authority as a nurse practitioner means that we will be able to give better access to healthcare," said Dr. Emma Murray, a Nurse Practitioner.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When it comes to disparities within our healthcare system, some of the issues come down to access. It can vary depending on where you live, but a new policy in Arkansas will help rural areas get the medical service they need.

Half the states in the country require nurse practitioners to practice under the supervision of a physician. The other half does not. Arkansas is the latest state to grant nurse practitioners full practice authority.

When there is a need, Dr. Emma Murray answers. 

“I had a brother when I was about 35-years-old that was injured in a motor vehicle accident. He was severely injured and handicapped. When I would drive to Memphis every day and spend evenings, I saw that there appeared to be a shortage of nurses in demand,” said Dr. Emma Murray, UTHSC College of Nursing Assistant Professor.

Dr. Murray decided to meet that demand. She became a nurse practitioner providing a wide range of care to patients in Arkansas. 

It doesn’t stop there. Arkansas has become the latest state to allow nurse practitioners full practice authority. That means nurse practitioners do not need supervision from a physician to help patients.

“The way it’s set up now is you would usually see a physician in about one in every three or four visits. All the other visits are taken care of by a nurse practitioner,” said Dr. Murray. “To have full practice authority as a nurse practitioner means that we will be able to give better access to healthcare, increase access to healthcare for the citizens in Arkansas.”

That will be particularly help to those in rural areas. 

“With more nurse practitioners practicing, we hope that we can prevent some of the preventative illnesses that people have. I have a friend that’s opening a diabetes wellness center in Arkansas just because of the new full practice authority credentials that we have now,” said Dr. Murray.

It is a new outlook on care. 

“I see a new frontier out there for nurse practitioners to be able to give back to the healthcare arena. I can see us all over the rural areas,” said Dr. Murray.

Their goal is to close the gap on healthcare access.

Dr. Murray said not only will access to healthcare improve, but it will also increase visibility in nurse practitioners. In order for nurse practitioners to receive full practice authority, they have to acquire the necessary certification.

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