Physicians, however, say nurse practitioners should continue to work within the physician-led primary care team to provide greater access to patients.
"This bill that allows nurses to diagnose and treat patients is bad for Michigan," said Kenneth Elmassian, M.D., president of the Michigan State Medical Society.
"We need a team approach to take care of more patients, but this bill is the antithesis of the team approach because it blurs the lines of medical doctors and nurse practitioners," said Elmassian, an anesthesiologist at McLaren Greater Lansing hospital.
But Nancy George, a nurse practitioner and president of the Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners, said Senate Bill 2 is modeled after measures in 18 other states and the District of Columbia and would only grant practitioners the ability to treat patients according to their education and training.
Advanced practice nurses are registered nurses who practice primary care and have two additional years of post-graduate education, said George, an associate professor of nursing at the Wayne State University College of Nursing.
"Physicians worry we will open clinics and compete with them," she said. "They also say we aren't as well-educated because we don't have as many years (of education) as they do. We are educated enough for the job we do. Studies have shown we provide high-quality care at a much lower cost."
Elmassian of the state medical society said the legislation goes too far in allowing nurse practitioners to practice independently.
"Nurses want to practice to the full extent of their training, and that's OK," he said. "But they also want to, to the full extent of our training."
The proposed legislation, sponsored by Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Grand Rapids, also addresses the duties of certified nurse midwives, certified nurse anesthetists and clinical nurse specialists. Jansen chairs the Senate Committee on Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing.
SB 2 passed out of the committee in April on a 6-1 vote and awaits a vote in the full Senate.
George said the bill would help attract nurse practitioners to Michigan, which has about 40 nurse practitioners per 100,000 people. Indiana and Ohio, which allow more independence, have 160 nurse practitioners per 100,000 people.
"This helps clear up what we can and can't do in practices and hospitals," George said. "We need to be more efficient with healthcare reform bringing in larger numbers of patients. This helps."
"Doctors wary of bill to expand nurse practitioners' role" originally appeared in Crain's Detroit Business.