At the heart of Frontier Nursing University is a talented and diverse community of faculty, students, alumni and preceptors. Spotlight blogs feature members of our FNU community that are focused on the mission of educating nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners to deliver quality health care to underserved and rural populations.
Frontier Nursing University (FNU) student Jason Hone, BSN, RN is answering the call to advocate for future patients, influencing the reform of a major healthcare legislation in his home state of Utah.
Until March 6, 2019, Utah state law required newly graduated Nurse Practitioners (NPs) to maintain Consultation & Referral (C&R) agreements with physicians for two years or 2,000 hours, whichever came first. Utah physicians had been collecting up to $22,000 per year from new NPs with no requirement for follow-ups on their end.
After learning of these requirements through research done during his NP700, “Role of the Nurse Practitioner” course at FNU, Jason, a Utah Nurse Practitioners (UNP) scholarship recipient, was invited to participate in a UNP luncheon. The luncheon’s goal was to bring legislative representatives on board with UNP’s mission of changing the C&R laws through the passing of bill HB336.
Jason was deeply impacted by this meeting and further calls to action from the UNP legislative chair. He took action, contacting two powerful lobbyist/activist groups in his area: Libertas and the Sutherland Institute. After explaining UNP’s position and petitioning their support, both influential groups were inspired to back Jason and UNP publicly on HB336, despite strong opposition from the Utah Medical Association (UMA), which threatened to kill the bill should it make it to the Senate.
Kirt Larson, MSN, FNP-C, Jason’s future preceptor, shared his frustration at the C&R legislation’s negative impact on him. Because his small practice could not find a physician willing to accept less than $500 per month for a C&R agreement, Kirt was unable to afford to hire a recent graduate he had trained.
When HB336 made it to the legislative floor for the vote, UMA resisted the arguments made by UNP. Jason told Kirt’s story to the UNP legislative chair and it was used in the official rebuttal to force UMA into negotiations.
The agreement reached by UMA, UNP and the bill sponsor removed the C&R requirement for almost all new graduates with a couple of reasonable exceptions. UMA offered no resistance as HB336 made its way through subsequent votes and was eventually ratified on March 6.
After the bill passed, Jason received kind words from UNP legislative chair Dr. Beth Luthy, FNP. She was amazed at the amount of support he was able to raise and ensured him that his efforts made a big impact on the favorable outcome.
“For me, it was a matter of simply talking to people. Regardless of position or title, people are people,” Jason said.
“As nurses, we talk to new patients, their families and other medical professionals every day. Taking action to improve the practice environment for NPs is just another way of advocating for future patients. We should not be afraid to talk to anyone when it comes to advocating for our profession, for our patients, or to educate, empower or improve our communities.”
Jason has already secured the support of Libertas and the Sutherland Institute for next year’s legislative plans. He is excited to continue the work of advocating for nurses and patients.
“This has been an amazing and rewarding experience. One voice can make a difference! I hope other students realize what kind of a difference they can each make by just talking to people,” Jason said.
Jason will begin clinicals this summer as he works toward his Family Nurse Practitioner master’s degree as a member of FNU Class 166.