Role of APRNs in Improving Access to Maternity Care Health Policy Paper

Role of APRNs in Improving Access to Maternity Care Health Policy Paper

Role of APRNs in Improving Access to Maternity Care Health Policy Paper

Introduction to the Problem

Maternal care is an essential aspect of promoting the health of women during their pregnancy, childbirth, and finally their postpartum period. It aims to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity in some cases and in most cases the aim is to provide a fulfilling and positive experience through a number of health care dimensions which are; family planning, preconception, prenatal, and postnatal care. However, in most countries, there are areas where women are unable to receive maternity care at various stages due to various factors such as the lack of adequate numbers of maternal health care professionals (World Health Organization, 2017). Role of APRNs in Improving Access to Maternity Care Health Policy Paper.


In the United States, rural areas are one area where the inadequate numbers of maternity health care professionals is limiting the access of women to maternal health care. This problem can be seen in the fact that in rural areas, maternal mortality is significantly higher. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in most rural areas the maternal mortality rate was 29.4 per 100,000 live births whereas in the large central metropolitan areas it was 18.2. Furthermore, the problem of inadequate maternal health care professionals has been getting worse. 45 out of the 54 rural counties were providing obstetrical services in 1980 and presently, this number has dropped to 16. Role of APRNs in Improving Access to Maternity Care Health Policy Paper. Consequently, a number of women are further away from obtaining obstetrical services and the distance serves as an inhibitor to their seeking of maternal health services (Maron, 2017).

The Policy

The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act of 2017 seeks to provide solutions to this problem by identifying geographic areas which have a shortage of maternity care health professionals based on collected data. Having identified the areas, the Health Resources and Services Administration will be required to distribute maternity care health professionals to the geographic target areas identified as being in need.

This Act attempts to address the problems that result from the inadequate number of health care professionals by trying to ensure that women in disadvantaged areas such as rural areas are able to access maternity care within their vicinity. This avoids the current situation where women are discouraged by the distance between them and the professionals, which they, therefore, opt not to seek maternity care services. Role of APRNs in Improving Access to Maternity Care Health Policy Paper.

Specific Legislators Involved in the Policy Development

The bill was introduced and referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the House of Representatives on January 5, 2017 by Mr. Michael C. Burgess, Ms. Anna Eshoo, and Mrs. Lucille Roybal-Allard.

Role of APRN in Assisting With the Policy

One of the factors that have contributed to the shortage of health professionals in maternity care is physician specialization and this has resulted in fewer physicians being able to carry out primary care. Obstetrician-gynecologists are sometimes considered in the category of primary care physicians. There has been a decline in physicians practicing primary care from half of the nation’s physicians in 1960 to less than one in three physicians currently. Moreover, the U.S. is lagging behind other industrialized countries, which have fifty to seventy percent of physicians practicing primary care (Aiken & Sage, 2015). Therefore, this shortage means that it is much more difficult for physicians to be transferred to the areas facing shortages in maternity care health professionals.

Advanced practice nurses are trained to deliver cost-effective and high-quality primary care (Alken & Sage, 2015). Consequently, APRNs are best suited to cover the shortage in these geographical areas such as rural areas. In the absence of physicians, APRN’s are able to deliver primary care to their patients and to implement this policy, the government will require to consider the key role and impact APRNs will have in delivering maternity care in these shortage-stricken areas Role of APRNs in Improving Access to Maternity Care Health Policy Paper.

How the Policy Influences Clinical Practices and Promotes Best Outcomes

Currently, only six percent of obstetrician-gynecologists in the nation work in rural areas and this is insufficient to serve the fifteen percent of the country’s population currently living in rural America. As a result, these extreme access problems lead to women making difficult decisions such as preemptively choosing caesarean sections births which is more risky than natural childbirth as they fear they will be unable to make it to the hospital in time once they begin labor (Maron, 2017).

This policy ensures that women have a reasonable access to maternity care during prenatal, birthing, and postpartum. This reduces the maternity mortality rates and promotes the general well-being of the mother and her child.

Use of the Policy by the Interprofessional Team

The success of this policy hinges on the easing of restrictions on nurses providing maternity care. APRNs require to be provided with more freedom to make their own decisions pertaining to their patients without requiring the input of physicians (Olive, 2016). The interprofessional team requires to recognize the capabilities of nurses in making their own decisions and this will enable more patients to have access to comprehensive care due to the widened scope created by the increased freedom of the nurses.


The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act of 2017 seeks to provide solutions to the problems that result from women failing to access maternity care due to the shortage of maternity care health professionals in some areas. This problem leads to the increased mortality in the areas affected by this shortage such as rural areas. The act seeks to have maternity care health professionals redistributed to the areas in need of them. However, with the current nationwide shortage in primary care physicians, APRNS are the best option to actualize this policy. With their extensive training in providing primary care, APRNs can be deployed in the areas facing this shortage and this will ultimately promote the best outcomes for patients who would normally be forced to make risky decisions due to the absence of care. However, for this to be successful, it is necessary for physicians and other members of the interprofessional team to recognize the nurses’ capabilities in actualizing this role and to accord them with more freedoms in undertaking their duties. Role of APRNs in Improving Access to Maternity Care Health Policy Paper.


Aiken, L. H., & Sage, W. M. (2015). Staffing national health care reform: a role for advanced practice nurses. Akron Law Review, 26(3), 187-211.

Maron, D. F. (2017, February 15). Maternal health care is disappearing in rural America. Retrieved from Scientific American:

Olive, M. (2016, August 15). A shortage in the nation’s maternal health care. Retrieved from The PEW Charitable Trusts:

World Health Organization. (2017). Maternal health. Retrieved from World Health Organization:


Role of APRNs in Improving Access to Maternity Care Health Policy Paper


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