Standards Q and A: Scope of Practice with Patient Care Needs
Q: I work in a jail and am trying to find guidance on what credential a jail nurse needs to have. Does the nurse have to be an RN or LPN, or would a medical assistant suffice?
A: This is a common question as facilities struggle to find nursing staff and consider using various levels of licensure or certification to fill direct patient care positions. The simple answer is that it depends on the state. Each state has specific scope of practice guidelines for nurses and other medical professionals. NCCHC encourages every facility to research its state’s applicable nurse practice act or nursing scope of practice regulations if there is no state NPA. The scope of practice information in those regulations will tell you the minimum level licensure or certification necessary for medical professionals in relation to various nursing-related tasks.