The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its regulations to grant veterans direct access to 3 roles of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who work in the VA healthcare system.

The VA released a final ruling that outlines the professional qualifications an individual must possess to be appointed as an APRN within the VA, establishes the criteria that the VA may grant full-practice authority to an APRN, and defines the full practice authority for each of the 3 roles of APRN—certified nurse practitioner (CNP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), or certified nurse-midwife (CNM).

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) will not be included in the VA’s full-practice authority ruling, but the VA will accept comment regarding any access issues that might warrant their inclusion on a future ruling.

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“This rulemaking increases veterans’ access to VA health care by expanding the pool of qualified healthcare professionals who are authorized to provide primary health care and other related healthcare services to the full extent of their education, training, and certification without the clinical supervision of physicians,” the VA stated in their ruling.

The VA also noted that this decision will allow the agency to use healthcare resources more effectively and in a manner that is consistent with the APRN role in non-VA health care settings while maintaining safe, high-quality care for veterans.

“This final rule is a critical step for America’s veterans to be able to obtain timely, high-quality care in the Veterans Health System,” stated Cindy Cooke, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, President of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), in a statement. “We are pleased the VA will move forward with allowing veterans throughout the country to have direct access to nurse practitioner-provided health care.”


  1. Department of Veterans Affairs. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses: A Rule by the Veterans Affairs Department. Published December 14, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2016.
  2. American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Veterans gain better access to care: Practitioners applaud VA’s rule. Published December 13, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2016.