Nurse practitioner will soon be a reality in India. Will have prescription rights.
Recently, a number of amendments to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill were approved by the Union cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Amendment to the NMC Bill comes in the backdrop of its consideration in the Lok Sabha and subsequently being referred to the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee (DRPSC). The Government has considered the recommendations made by the Standing Committee in its report tabled in the House and general feedback, particularly the views of medical students and practitioners regarding certain provisions of the Bill.
One of the the amendments refers to mid-level medical practitioners. According to the new amendment, “The mid-level medical practitioners will get a limited license to practice specified medicines in primary and preventive healthcare settings and in other settings under the supervision of a medical doctor.”
This amendment if implemented will open the doors to a new era of nurse practitioners that Indian healthcare industry has been waiting for. Nurse practitioners are a key part of healthcare delivery in USA, UK, Germany and many other developed countries. These nurses are equipped with additional educational qualification and the permission to function in an extended medical role. The government has been trying to raise a cadre of non-MBBS medical professionals in certain fields to address the lack of medical attention arising from the shortage of doctors, especially in rural areas.
The bill also provides for a separate register to list such mid-level medical practitioners with limited drug prescription rights. Other than the nurse practitioners, these mid-level medical practitioners will include pharmacists, physician assistants and optometrists.
In 2016, Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, launched two new Nurse Practitioner Courses, one in Critical Care and the other in Primary Healthcare in India. The Nurse Practitioner in Critical Care Program will be a two-year residential M.Sc degree in Nurse Practitioner in Critical care. On completion of the program Nurses will be qualified to assume responsibility and accountability for the care of critically ill patients. Whereas, the Nurse Practitioner in Primary Healthcare Program will be a one-year residential Post Graduate diploma program.