Disagreement exists in Minnesota about whether the state faces an application backlog for a new credentialing process that expands clinical authority for Minnesota's advanced practice nurses.
A new state law takes effect Jan. 1 which will grant advanced practice registered nurses with one year's experience more authority for prescribing and independent practice.
However that independence comes with a more stringent credentialing process, and last week, the Minnesota Medical Association alerted its members that a “flood of license applications has caused a backlog.”
The MMA called on doctors with APRNs in their practice “to remind them to apply for licensure as soon as possible.”
But Shirley Brekken, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Nursing, while acknowledging an application rush, said there is no current backlog. Applications that include all the necessary certification and education documentation are being processed as they come in, she said.
The new law, signed by Gov. Mark Dayton in May, contains a provision stating that APRNs interested in the newly created 2015 license had to submit their names to an APRN registry by July 1.
The MMA noted that, as of Dec. 15, there were about 1,400 APRNs on the registry who had not yet submitted their license applications. The state's nursing board may have raised deadline concerns with a Dec. 15 bulletin on its website that carried a sense of urgency.
“The Board is processing APRN applications as quickly as possible,” the notice stated. “However, applications continue to come in daily and there may not be sufficient time for the Board to fully process all applications to meet that deadline.”
The notice also said that “interim authority to practice” would be granted to individuals who had submitted their applications and necessary documentation by 4:30 p.m. Dec. 31, but that the processing of their application might not been completed by year end.
Brekken noted that, prior to Nov. 15, the board had received only 1,954 applications. It received about 3,500 between Nov. 16 and Dec. 15. And it has received 552 applications in the last two weeks. Of the more than 6,000 applications received, Brekken said processing had been completed for 4,954 of them as of Dec. 29.
The law's supporters, such as the Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists, praised it for removing barriers and increasing access to care. But Brekken said the most significant aspect of the new law might be its structure, based on a national consensus model bill.
“As each state adopts it, it will standardize the regulation of advanced practice registered nurses across the country, which now varies from state to state a great deal,” Brekken said. “From a regulatory standpoint, that standardization will be really helpful for consumers of the services of advanced practice registered nurses.”
Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks