Nurses shaking hands

The Path to NP Independent Practice: Collaborating Agreements  

You’ve graduated from your nurse practitioner program, earned your licenses, and feel confident in your skills as a healthcare professional. And yet, depending on the state you practice in, you may be restricted in your ability to practice independently. Fortunately, there is a solution for those practicing in reduced or restricted states: collaborating agreements. 

What are Collaborating Agreements for Nurse Practitioners? 

Collaborating agreements, also known as collaborative practice agreements (CPAs), are legal documents signed by a nurse practitioner and a physician that outline the terms of their professional collaboration. In states with reduced or restricted practice laws, these agreements allow NPs to practice to the full extent of their education and training, while having a supervising physician they can consult with as needed. 

 Why are Collaborating Practice Agreements Important? 

Collaborating agreements are especially important in states with restricted practice laws, which limit the ability of NPs to diagnose and treat patients without oversight from a physician. Although these laws may vary from state to state, they sometimes require that a nurse practitioner work under the direct supervision of a physician and may also require that the physician be physically present during certain procedures. 

In states with reduced practice laws, NPs may have more freedom to practice independently, but may still be restricted in certain areas such as prescribing certain medications or performing certain procedures. Collaborating agreements can help bridge this gap by allowing NPs to leverage a collaborative agreement with a physician to provide a wider range of services to their patients. 

How Do Collaborating Practice Agreements for Nurse Practitioners Work? 

To enter into a collaborating agreement, a nurse practitioner must first find a physician who is willing to participate. This could be a physician who already works with the nurse practitioner, or could be someone new, such as a physician who practices in the same specialty. Once a physician has agreed to participate, the two parties will work together to draft the agreement, which must be approved by both the state board of nursing and the state board of medicine. 

The specific terms of a collaborating agreement may vary depending on the state, but typically include provisions such as the scope of practice of the NP, the responsibilities of the supervising physician, and the frequency and methods of communication between the two parties. In some states, the agreement may need to be renewed annually, while in others it may only need to be updated if there are significant changes to the terms. 

Summary: Collaborating Agreements for Independent NPs  

Collaborating agreements offer nurse practitioners in reduced or restricted practice states the opportunity to work independently to the full extent of their education and training. By working with a collaborating physician, NPs can provide a wider range of services to their patients while still having access to consultation and guidance as needed.  

NP Advantage Can Help 

While collaborating agreements for nurse practitioners vary depending on the state, the result is usually the same: greater freedom to practice and improved patient care. If you are an NP who is interested in opening an independent practice, contact us to learn more about your options for a collaborating agreement to see how it could benefit both you and your patients. 

Let’s Improve Patient Care Together