The Roles of Certified Nurse Practitioner in California

In California, role and scope of the certified nurse practitioners (CNP) are simply defined as normally registered nurses who have undergone advanced training to capacitate them practice as primary care providers in acute and outpatient settings(Aleshire, Wheeler, & Prevost, 2012). There is, however, a wide variation in the general and legal understanding of their scope of practice as well as their roles and responsibilities in the hospital setting. The confusion arises from the fact that their roles as stipulated in their training have traditionally been played by clinicians and physicians.

According to the California Code of Regulations, CCR 1484, a certified nurse practitioner has no additional role or scope of practice besides what is considered for a basic registered nurse (Aleshire et al., 2012). Even with their training and skills in physical diagnosis, psychosocial assessment, and clinical management if the health needs of the patients, they are still required to be reliant on standardized authorization procedure to perform functions that overlap those of medical practitioners (Carryer, Gardner, Dunn, & Gardner, 2007).

Issuing of drug orders has for long been an issue of contention for the CPNs. In California, the BPC Code allows the nurse practitioner to obtain and issue drug orders to patients. However, this is also strictly controlled by the standardized procedures, and the nurses cannot claim to be working in autonomy. To most of the nurse practitioner, the role does not seem to be any different to the typical drug administration roles of a registered nurse (Donald et al., 2010).

Despite the continuous efforts to increase the scope of nursing and upgrade the roles that nurses play in the healthcare setting around the world, inadequate clarity of functions is frustrating the education efforts of nurses. Misunderstanding of the roles of certified nurse practitioners across the states is just one example where the efforts of nurses to upgrade and expand their scope is met with frustrations and discouragement (Aleshire et al., 2012).

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