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APRN prescribing, CNS prescribing, prescriptive authority



  1. Klein, Tracy PhD, FNP, FAANP, FAAN, FRE


Purpose/Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess role characteristics of clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) with prescriptive authority in Oregon 10 years after passage of Senate Bill 460. Factors examined included role preparation and mentorship, use and maintenance of authority, prescribing benefits and barriers, and types of drugs/nondrugs prescribed.


Design: This study was a descriptive survey using both quantitative and qualitative analysis.


Sample: The sample was obtained from a list provided on June 13, 2014, by the Oregon State Board of Nursing of all CNSs in Oregon who had ever been granted prescriptive authority (n = 40). Twenty-nine with active authority, 7 with expired authority, and 4 with inactive status were sampled.


Methods: E-mail distribution with Qualtrics software was released on June 27, 2014. Reminder e-mails were sent at 1 and 2 weeks. Of the 38 e-mails successfully delivered, 23 responses were received for a total response rate of 60%.


Results: Clinical nurse specialists successfully maintained their authority in Oregon and felt well prepared for their role. Their prescribing mentorship included nurse and nonnurse prescribers. They were most likely to have ever prescribed psychiatric, noncontrolled analgesics and durable medical equipment. They most frequently prescribed nutrition/electrolytes/fluids, durable medical equipment, and controlled analgesics. Lapse in authority was attributed to constraints regarding certification or credentialing in the role.


Conclusions: Clinical nurse specialists uniformly expressed benefits from prescriptive authority. There were no differences in perceptions of preparation based on type of mentorship or educational modality for completion of prescribing requirements. There were systems barriers including lack of employer and colleague support to use of authority. Durable medical equipment authority is important to the CNS role.


Implications: Clinical nurse specialists valued and maintained their prescriptive authority despite barriers. Further research is recommended to support success for CNS prescribers from multiple settings and specialties.