Massachusetts Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Certification

Advanced practice nurses or nurse practitioners surfaced as a solution to the physician shortage in the 1960s. As a result, nurses received advanced medical training to extend medical support while under the supervision of physicians (Buppert, 2021).  The profession has since changed into a master’s or doctorate-prepared field across 41 states, including Massachusetts (Buppert, 2021).

To become certified and licensed as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse in Massachusetts, one must possess a registered nurse license by the Massachusetts board of nursing that is in good standing. In addition, they must be in good moral character compliance.  They must have graduated from a graduate degree program designed to prepare the RN for practice as a certified nurse practitioner. In addition, one must have completed an advanced assessment, advanced pathophysiology, and advanced Pharmacotherapeutics courses and holds accreditation from a Board recognized national accrediting organization for academic programs (244 CRM-4).

Application Process for APRN Certification in Massachusetts

The initial Certified Nurse Practitioner CNP application process to practice in the state of Massachusetts is as follows: The registered nurse with an excellent standing license must apply to the professional credential services website. In addition, they must have verification status from one of the following depending on the area of concentration, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), National Certification Corporation (NCC), Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB), American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) (244 CRM-4, 2021). In addition, the new applicant must request an official transcript from the CNP nursing education program the applicant graduated from contained in a sealed envelope sent directly to PCS (244 CRM-4). The applicant must also submit the determination of the Good Moral Character Compliance Information Sheet and the required fee.

Massachusetts State Board of Nursing Website

The Massachusetts nursing board website, is https://www.ncsbn.org/Massachusetts.htm.  It contains many resources, including nursing regulations and policies guiding CNP.  The website also includes an APRN Campaign for Consensus for moving towards uniformity in State laws.  That consensus also supports the independent practice and prescribing for APRNs in all states.

Massachusetts Scope of Practice and State Practice Agreement

The Massachusetts scope of practice for CNP currently stipulates that the Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP) may only practice in the clinical category(s) for which the CNP has attained and maintained certification.  They may provide “health care services in diverse settings to individuals throughout the lifespan, including health promotion, disease prevention, health education, abortion for pregnancy less than 24 weeks, counseling and making referrals to other members of the health care team, as well as the diagnosis and management of acute and chronic illness and disease” (Buppert, 2021).  The CNP in Massachusetts may sign, certify or endorse lawful documents as a physician would, as long as the required affidavit is within the CNP’s scope of practice.   In Massachusetts, an APRN “may engage in the prescriptive practice without supervision upon submission of an attestation to the Board that the CRNA, CNP or PNMHCS has completed a minimum of two years of supervised practice by a Qualified Healthcare Professional” (Buppert, 2021).

Getting a DEA license

To obtain a Drug Enforcement Administration license, the CNP must submit an application containing their complete identification information to include social security number (SSN).

The application requirement also includes:

Email address.

Point of contact.

National provider id.

Date of birth.

Year graduated.

Professional school.

The provider’s credential.

In addition, applicants must select all scheduled drugs they will handle (Drug Enforcement Diversion Control Division, 2020).  Massachusetts participates in the prescription monitoring program (PMP).  Any prescriber prescribing control substances must assess the patient for drug abuse potential or risk factors by obtaining a substance abuse history and verifying prescription history against the PMP.  Patients with high potential may enter a treatment agreement that appropriately addresses drug screening, pill counts, safe storage, and disposal of controlled substances.

Massachusetts Nurse Practitioner’s controlled-substance Prescriptive Authority

After receiving the APRN authorization from the board of nursing, the CNP may apply for prescriptive practice.  They may also apply for control substance registration. In addition, according to the recent Independent Prescribing Practice, as authorized by Chapter 260 of the Acts of 2020 and 244 CMR 4.00, APRNs who meet the qualification for independent prescriptive practice may apply for Independent Prescribing Practice (Massachusetts Controlled Substances Registration, 2021). No supervising physicians are not necessary for those instances, and the APRN may prescribe controlled 2,3,4, and 5 drugs.

References

Buppert, C. (2021). Nurse practitioner’s business practice and legal guide (7th ed.). Jones & Bartlett

Learning.

Drug Enforcement Diversion Control Division (2020). DEA Form 224 – New Application for Registration

Retrieved from https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drugreg/reg_apps/224/224_instruct.htm

244 CRM-4, (2021).  Advanced Practice Registered Nursing. Retrieved from

https://www.mass.gov/doc/244-cmr-4-advanced-practice-registered-nursing/download

Massachusetts Controlled Substances Registration (2021).  Apply for or renew a physician, dentist,

advanced practice nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or CDTM pharmacist MCSR.  Retrieved from https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-or-renew-a-physician-dentist-advanced-practice-nurse-practitioner-physician-assistant-or-cdtm-pharmacist-mcsr

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