Scope and standards are clearly articulated and used often by stakeholders to highlight nursing practice requirements and opportunities. Scope of practice and standards of practice are created methodically and comprehensively through a collaborative effort by key stakeholders to identify areas related to safety and quality while reflecting the existing research through evidence-based nursing practice. Scope of practice and standards of practice are fundamental to what nurses do, so it is important to understand how scope and standards fit into nursing practice.
In the nursing profession, the scope and standards of nursing practice are extremely important for registered nurses across the United States. These standards speak to the tasks and interventions that registered nurses are authorized to legally complete. Scope and standards are more than just a suggestion for how registered nurses should act; rather, scope and standards comprise the rule book for nurses. Any nurse operating outside of the scope and standards documents are acting in an unprofessional and unsafe manner. Patient harm may occur, jeopardizing the patient, their family, the community, and even the profession of nursing.
Scope and standards documents may be authored by state boards of nursing through their respective Nurse Practice Act, nursing organizations, or even nursing specialty organizations. In fact, a registered nurse may practice under several different scope and standards documents, depending on their job and the skills they are completing. Nursing organizations may include organizations like the American Nurses Association, and specialty organizations may include organizations like the Society of Pediatric Nurses. Still, nurses may fall under specific scope and standards documents when performing certain tasks, like telehealth.
Authored by Cindy Ebner, MSN, RN, CPHRM, FASHRM and Colleen Harris Marzilli, PhD, DNP, MBA, RN-BC, CCM, PHNA-BC, NEA-BC, FNAP