Scope of practice’ defines those health care services a physician or other health care practitioner is authorized to perform by virtue of professional license, registration, or certification”.
- Each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia has its own nursing and medical practice acts that define the legal scope of practice for each in the respective jurisdiction, but are generally comparable across states.
- RNs and physicians have restrictions on practice set by the legal jurisdiction as well as the organization in which they work.
- RN and physician overlap activities include physical exam, health assessment, and implementing treatments including medications.
- Activities unique to medical practice include diagnosing medical illness, performing surgical procedures, and prescribing diagnostic tests and medication treatment.
- Mechanisms to extend the traditional scope of nursing practice include changes in legal and regulatory framework and use of standardized procedures accompanied with specialized RN training to perform activities traditionally out of the RN scope of practice. Examples include prescribing immunizations, ordering chest x-rays, and wound suturing.