Georgetown Nursing Student Meets Kentucky Governor at Bill Signing

MARCH 12, 2014 - A Georgetown graduate student witnessed nursing history in the making when she attended a ceremony where Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) signed into law a bill that expands the prescribing authority of advanced practice registered nurses.

“This was such an electrifying moment,” says Jennifer Otto (G’14), RN, who is earning a master’s degree through the online Family Nurse Practitioner Program at the School of Nursing & Health Studies.  “I was able to understand the time and effort so many have had getting Senate Bill 7 to this point.”

The bill, according to a press release form the governor’s office, “allows APRNs who have been prescribing for four years with a collaborative agreement under the supervision of a physician to begin to prescribe routine medications independently.”

‘Step in the Right Direction’

The bill also creates a committee to oversee a program through which APRNs can collaborate with physicians to write prescriptions for non-scheduled drugs and offers independent prescribing rights to APRNs who have been prescribing routine medications in other states for four or more years.

“As more people gain access to health care as a result of the Affordable Care Act, this bill is a step in the right direction to begin addressing the current and projected shortfall of primary care physicians in Kentucky,” Beshear says.  “The bill also aligns Kentucky with other states that have demonstrated the provider capacity and quality of care benefit from expanding the scope of APRNs.”

Energized by Policy

Otto says that the health policy course – taught by Richard Ricciardi, PhD, NP, a faculty member in the Department of Nursing – prepared her for this experience.

“I am amazed at how the classroom has flowed over into what is going on here in this state with APRN movements,” she says.  “I cannot say enough positive about the policy class. The readings have all been very beneficial.”

She says she learned about all of the work that went into this bill after joining the Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners & Nurse Midwives.  The press release notes that the bill results from a collaboration between physician and nurse provider organizations.

“I see myself getting involved further in policy once I graduate,” she says.  “Dr. Ricciardi has also been a very positive and energizing force, instilling the necessity to be involved and not become complacent once we graduate. I can see firsthand that getting out of the books and clinics and into the pulse of what is transpiring in our industry is a must.”

A Passion to Serve

Otto, who currently lives near Louisville, has experience practicing in pediatric and primary care clinics.

“It is my passion to help people and my family by being professionally relevant and having the ability to use this passion and skill set at work and when traveling,” she says.  “Since returning to education, every day is new and exciting.”

She says she feels honored to be a student at Georgetown and has enjoyed the close relationship with faculty and the opportunity to come to Washington during the on-campus intensive weekends.

“I am thankful Georgetown’s program exposes its students to more than just what is needed to be an exceptional clinical practitioner,” she says.  “When I began applying to graduate schools I never envisioned myself wanting to be a political activist, but my education has added that to my personal growth.”

By Bill Cessato