State Scope of Practice Restrictions and Nurse Practitioner Practice in Nursing Homes: 2012-2019


Kira L. Ryskina, Junning Liang, Ashley Z. Ritter, Joanne Spetz, and Hilary Barnes

February 12, 2024

Abstract: Increased engagement of nurse practitioners (NPs) has been recommended as a way to address care delivery challenges in settings that struggle to attract physicians, such as primary care and rural areas. Nursing homes also face such physician shortages. We evaluated the role of state scope of practice regulations on NP practice in nursing homes in 2012-2019. Using linear probability models, we estimated the proportion of NP-delivered visits to patients in nursing homes as a function of state scope of practice regulations. Control variables included county demographic, socioeconomic, healthcare workforce characteristics, state fixed effects, and year indicators. The proportion of nursing home visits conducted by NPs increased from 24% in 2012 to 42% in 2019. Expanded scope of practice regulation was associated with a greater proportion and total volume of nursing home visits conducted by NPs in counties with at least one NP visit. These relationships were concentrated among short-stay patients in urban counties. Removing scope of practice restrictions on NPs may address clinician shortages in nursing homes in urban areas where NPs already practice in nursing homes. However, improving access to advanced clinician care for long-term care residents and for patients in rural locations may require additional interventions and resources.