Rural Health Services Get Shot in the Arm

A bipartisan bill aimed at helping rural Coloradans access quality medical care, by lowering unnecessary barriers that can delay or prevent Advanced Practice Registered Nurses from caring for these underserved areas, was signed into law today by Gov. John Hickenlooper. SB-197 was co-sponsored by Sen. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa) and Sen. Cheri Jahn (D-Wheat Ridge) in the Senate, and Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) and Rep. Yeulin Willett (R-Grand Junction) in the House.

“Living in rural Colorado is tough enough without having the additional hardship of worrying where you’re going to find a qualified healthcare provider,” Crowder said, in explaining why expedited credentialing for APRN’s is needed. “Removing barriers that needlessly delay or discourage Advanced Practice Registered Nurses from opening practices in rural Colorado won’t cure the doctor shortage, but it can help ensure that rural residents confronting the shortage still get quality care.”

Crowder speaks from experience on this issue: He and his family say they receive outstanding treatment from the APRN they use as a primary care provider.

Colorado rules required that APRNs complete 3,600 hours of work under a doctor’s supervision before they can open a practice of their own. That’s a much more onerous requirement than one finds in some other Western states. As amended, SB-197 discarded that burden in favor of simply requiring independent practice APRNs to have three years professional nursing experience and complete a six-month (1,000 hours) mentorship under a doctor or experienced APRN.

“This law still ensures that the APRNs serving rural Coloradans are highly experienced and educated professionals, while also ensuring that rural residents can benefit from their services as quickly as possible,” said Crowder, who thanked fellow legislators for passing, and Gov. Hickenlooper for signing, the new law.

 

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