MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Nurses are rallying at the Alabama Capitol Wednesday to advocate for access to health care, nurse safety, and modified laws for nurses to practice the skills they have learned.
Dr. John Ziegler is a spokesperson for the Alabama State Nurses Association. He said many times nurses can’t practice to the fullest scope of their training in Alabama. He said nurses go through training and learn certain procedures, but there are Alabama laws restricting them from practicing them.
“For many years nurses were considered to be assistants to physicians,” Ziegler said. "Then they evolved in their talent.”
For example, there are laws restricting nurse practitioners from prescribing medication in many cases, even though they have the training. Ziegler said the association would like to see nurse practitioners legally be able to prescribe certain levels of medication for primary care.
Giving nurse practitioners this ability can help meet the demand in rural hospitals. He said there are currently not enough doctors to meet the needs.
The Alabama Rural Health Association says Alabama needs 150 additional primary care doctors placed to fill immediate needs and 450 additional doctors to meet optimal needs.
“We’re in danger of rural hospitals closing because they don’t have enough physicians because, in some cases, Medicaid is not funded to the extent that their particular patient population would use," he said.
Sarah Wilkinson-Buchmann with the Alabama State Nurses Association agreed.
“Nurse practitioners are willing to go into rural areas of Alabama and provide basic health care to our citizens who currently don’t have access to care," Buchmann said. "And with more hospitals closing in rural Alabama, we are in a state of crisis.”
The state nurses association is putting together a working group to create legislation for Alabama lawmakers to hopefully change the law.
The association also wants to bring awareness of the violence against nurses.
“Physical attacks against nurses is on the rise," Ziegler added.
The Alabama Coalition of Nursing Organizations and Gov. Kay Ivey were in attendance.