AMA's Scope of Practice for Nonphysicians

By Wittig, Virginia R. | Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, April-June 2001 | Go to article overview

AMA's Scope of Practice for Nonphysicians


Wittig, Virginia R., Perspectives in Psychiatric Care


According to Jay Greene of the AMA News, in an article dated January 8, 2001, obtained by APNA Government Relations, the AMA "House of Delegates approved several actions intended to both slow down and study nonphysicians seeking independent practice and prescriptive rights--a trend many physicians believe encroaches on the practice of medicine" (p. 9). This news follows the AMA's "Citizen's Petition," which charged that the Health Care Financing Administration "has failed to uphold the intent of Congress and its duty to taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries by encouraging advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to practice beyond legally authorized safeguards" (AMA, 2000, p. 6).

The House of Delegates voted to continue to support activities of the AMA's Advocacy Resource Center in helping specialty and state medical societies oppose scope-of-practice bills that allow independent practice, and it instructed the AMA to give scope issues higher legislative priority. Particularly disturbing to psychiatric-mental health APRNs is a comment made by James Skully, Jr., MD, a delegate representing the American Psychiatric Association from Columbia. He stated, "These days we have forces at work to deconstruct our profession of medicine, break it down into little pieces, and parcel it out for others to do" (Greene, 2001, p. 9).

"By the year 2015, nonphysician providers are expected to nearly double to more than 540,000. Doctors involved in patient care are expected to increase to more than 675,000 by the year 2020" (Greene, 2001, p. 9). Although AMA's physician members express the concern that the granting of independent practice fights has been based upon saving money rather than improving patient care, given these statistics, it is apparent that any effort made to stem the tide of nonphysician providers will help the AMA and its membership survive economically.

The article primarily pointed a finger at professions that have or are seeking prescriptive authority, "including advanced practice nurses, psychologists and optometrists" (Greene, 2001, p. …

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