The Virgin Islands State Nurses Association (VISNA) commends Senator Usie Richards, Chairperson of the Health Committee, and his legislative colleagues for passing Bill # 26-0028. This bill recognizes nurses in the territory who have met advanced educational and clinical practice requirements beyond the basic nursing education requirements and provides for this group of nurses to more fully utilize their skills to positively impact the health of our community. This action of the Legislature has brought to fruition the hard work of a committee of the Virgin Islands Board of Nurse Licensure which spent considerable time and energy over many months researching provisions and language that would protect the public while supporting the expanded role of the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).
It is significant that this bill was passed on the eve of National Nurses Week when we celebrate the contributions of nurses to the health care of the people of the United States and its possessions. This year's Nurses Week theme, 'Many Roles One Profession' highlight how nurses, particularly APRNs can deliver timely, cost-effective, quality health care to those most in need. APRNs work in clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, offices and other settings. Based on the area of their specialization they are skilled and qualified to provide a wide range of care by assessing, planning and delivering treatment to clients.
This law will make it possible for the people of the Virgin Islands to benefit from the practice of APRNs who are capable of providing much of the basic preventive and primary health care. Nurses are shifting the health system paradigm from an illness focus to that of wellness. Nurses believe that attending to the maintenance of health and prevention of disease produces a healthy and productive population and reduces the cost of medical care.
The Virgin Islands has joined other state legislative bodies that have recognized the value of, and legitimized, the role of the Advance Practice Registered Nurse. I applaud our senators for making this legislation a reality.
Gloria B. Callwood, PhD, RN
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