Georgia is currently one of a number of states seeking solutions to closing access to care gaps, especially in rural areas of the state. Specifically, Georgia has 79 counties that have no OB/GYN physicians, 63 counties that have no pediatricians, 31 counties with no internal medicine physicians, and six counties that have no family physicians. As a result, many citizens of Georgia do not have access to these health care services without driving long distances beyond their own counties.
To address this issue, earlier this year the state senate adopted a resolution calling for the formation of a study committee to examine the issue and send recommendations to the legislature. The resolution specifically called for the committee to undertake a review of advanced practice nursing laws and stated that Georgia laws and regulations have not kept pace with the evolution of advanced practice nursing for the past 40 years. The resolution also stated that Georgia is one of only 12 states with laws restricting the autonomy of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs).
Among the initial recommendations made by the committee in its final report are for APRNs to be allowed to practice to their full scope and provide more services in Georgia’s rural areas. During the committee meetings, members said the state should be exploring how APRNs could be an important part of the solution for the access to health care “crisis” across Georgia. Members have also called for Georgia to join the national trend of removing legal barriers for APRNs to practice to the full scope of their education, training and certification.
Read the Senate Study Committee’s “Final Report of the Barriers to Georgians’ Access to Adequate Healthcare” here.