Senate Acts to Address Medical Care Shortage in Rural Colorado

A bipartisan bill designed to help increase the availability of quality health care in rural Colorado cleared another hurdle today with Senate passage of SB-197, which lessens burdensome state rules that can keep qualified Advanced Practice Registered Nurses from caring for these under-served populations. 

The bill, co-authored by Sen. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa) and Sen. Cheri Jahn (D-Wheat Ridge), passed the Senate and moves now to the House for action.

“One reality of rural life, not always appreciated by urban dwellers, is that good family doctors can be few and far between,” said Crowder after the bill passed. “Removing barriers that can now prevent fully-qualified Advanced Practice Registered Nurses from opening practices in these under-served parts of the state won’t by itself cure the doctor shortage, but it should help ensure that rural residents confronting the shortage still can 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 require 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, which can deter potential applicants and slow the qualification process to a crawl. As amended, SB-197 would discard 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 change still ensures that the APRNs serving rural Coloradans are highly experienced and educated professionals, while trying to remove some of more onerous barriers to entry that Colorado’s rules create,” explained Crowder. “Our rural residents and communities, who often have an aging population, deserve the highest quality care we can get for them. We need this bill to become law, now more than ever.


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