To The Editor:

I am a Registered Nurse and a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner student. I worry about the shortage of psychiatric providers during this time of a pandemic.

Mental health has always been an area of healthcare with less resources than others — but currently we are seeing major influxes of patients due to social isolation and the counties overall increased anxiety level surrounding Covid. At some practices, it is taking months to book a new client appointment. This could be contributing to our high numbers of psychiatric patients in hospital emergency departments.

Coming out of school and into practice, I worry about my patient population and how I can best serve them. Currently in NC, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN’s) are required to have a supervising physician who they must meet with twice a year to sign a form and often pay for supervision. These physicians rarely participate in patient care or treatment planning with most APRN’s. The SAVE Act is a bill being considered by the state legislature that would eliminate this outdated red tape for nurse practitioners and bring North Carolina in line with long-established national standards.

The problem of access to care will only continue until we allow providers to work at the top of their licenses. The SAVE Act will help to solve this issue by eliminating the hoops that NP’s must jump through to continue to practice, especially in the rural areas of our state

Emily Ashton