Letters to the Editor

Vets’ healthcare

As a healthcare provider, I support the proposed rule that addresses the growing demand for health care services within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) by allowing veterans to have direct access to high quality healthcare delivered by Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs).

There are more than 6,000 APRNs — of which over 4,000 are nurse practitioners (NPs) — providing a full range of services to veterans in the VHA. The safety of APRN services has long been recognized by the VHA and underscored by peer-reviewed scientific studies.

These studies have proven consistently that the care provided by APRNs, practicing to the full scope of their education and preparation is equal to the care of their physician counterparts. This large, ever-growing body of evidence has led the National Academy of Medicine, AARP, the RWJ Foundation, the National Governors Association, and the Federal Trade Commission to encourage direct access to APRNs.

Limiting APRN practice within the VHA impairs access to care, risks delays in health care delivery, increases costs, and fails to promote patient safety. This policy update will provide veterans with direct access to the safe, high quality, patient-centered care that NPs have provided for more than 50 years.

Thomas Schlepko,