Mandatory Collaboration vs. Professional Collaboration
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What is Mandatory Collaboration and What is the Collaborative Agreement?Why removing the Collaborative Agreement is so important?
What if in 2017 we removed the mandatory collaborative agreement? Well, nurse practitioners would continue to collaborate with their employer physicians, their physician colleagues, and their nurse practitioner colleagues as they have done for 20 years. NPs would continue to work for physicians, clinics, and hospitals. No nurse practitioner would have to change a thing. So why get rid of it? Some very good things would happen in Arkansas if this requirement was removed. What, you may ask? Well, some nurse practitioners want to practice in their small rural communities and would open a clinic where no one else wants to work. However, under the current law, when they can’t FIND a collaborative physician, they can’t practice there. What happens if an NP has his/her own clinic in a rural community and their collaborative physician retires? They can’t remain in that practice if they can’t find another physician to meet the requirements of a collaborative agreement. Has that happened before? YES. One rural SE Arkansas NP had to close her practice serving the Delta when her collaborative physician retired. She was the only provider in her area servicing many thousands of Arkansans. We are seeing clinics owned by NPs close due to this barrier. When nurse practitioners can practice in underserved areas, access to care in these areas is increased. Some call this Full Practice Authority (FPA); nurse practitioners doing what they are educated, licensed, and certified to do, nothing more. Does it mean a nurse practitioner will be forced to open his/her own clinic? Absolutely not.
Why is this important today? This month, several bills have been filed at the Capitol that are aimed at removing the mandatory collaborative agreement and fixing some important NP problems. There are, in fact, several bills that will affect NPs such as full schedule II prescribing, PCP status in Medicaid, and signature authority, permitting us to sign the paperwork on physicals and forms that currently require a physician signature. As a professional group, we must stand together and support our colleagues who have been working so hard at bringing these bills forward. Arkansas has a great opportunity to join 21 other states in the nation who have similarly removed such barriers to practice. Let’s move forward together and grab this opportunity!
In the next few days and weeks, you will hear more from ANPA about what is happening in the current legislative session. Stay tuned, pass the emails on to your colleagues, and act when you are asked to reach out to your legislators.