The Nurse Practice Act
Nurse Practice Acts vary from state to state. Each legislature determines the minimum licensing requirements and the scope of nursing practice within that state. However, nursing practice is far too complex to be itemized within a Nurse Practice Act (NPA). Instead of listing all allowable nursing activities, the NPA usually:
- identifies the purpose of the legislation
- defines terms used within the NPA
- describes the minimum requirements to be eligible to be licensed as a Licensed Practical Nurse (PN), professional (RN) or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP)
- differentiate the scope of practice for Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nurses and License Practical Nurses
- delegates to a government agency (usually a board of nursing) the duty to implement and enforce of the NPA
- cites the penalties for violation of the NPA
- constrains the duties and activities of the board of nursing
- establishes the requirements for the approval of professional and vocational/practical nursing pre-licensure education programs
- identifies circumstances that qualify as exemptions under the NPA.
To execute the NPA, each state legislature creates a Board of Nursing (BON) to promulgate rules and regulations that ensure that licensed nurses are qualified and competent to practice safe nursing care. Continuing nursing education is one strategy some BONs employ to certify that licensees maintain the ability to provide competent care.