Health

Committee: To Attract Nurses To Rural Georgia, Give Them More Authority

Georgia capitol
Under Georgia law, advanced nurse practitioners are limited in what they can do. State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, says legislation could change that and provide an incentive for nurses to practice in rural areas of Georgia by allowing APRNs to practice full scope there.
Credit Al Such / WABE

A state Senate study committee is recommending that nurses with advanced training be allowed to practice more services in Georgia’s rural areas.

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Under Georgia law, advanced nurse practitioners, or APRNs, are currently limited in what they can do.

“In our state, the APRN cannot order advanced radiological tests, like an MRI or a CT scan, even though it’s in their protocol … they’re not allowed to do that, so that means their scope is restricted,” said Lucy Marion, dean of Augusta University’s College of Nursing.

Marion says advanced practice nurses can’t prescribe certain drugs, and for the ones who can, they have to have physician oversight.

State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, who chairs the study committee, says legislation to change that would help incentivize nurses to practice in rural areas by allowing APRNs to practice full scope in rural areas of Georgia.

The study committee had been looking into barriers to health care access in Georgia.

“If they want full practice authority and they want to have more of what they’re taught in school to be able to practice, they’ll go to the rural areas. If they want to go to Dunwoody, then they’re not going to be able to order their tests or write their prescriptions or whatever they want to do — there’s a big difference,” Unterman said.

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Georgia is one of 12 states with restricted practice laws.