State nurse practice acts vary based on licensing requirements, types of nursing licenses, scope of nursing practice, grounds for disciplinary action, nursing titles and educational standards, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Nurse practice acts protect patient safety by establishing guidelines for safe, professional nursing care.
Scope of practice rules vary from state to state, reports Barton Associates, a health-care staffing firm. For example, as of 2015, nurse practitioners in Iowa can prescribe medications without physician involvement, but nurse practitioners in Michigan cannot prescribe drugs unless they have physician supervision or a collaborative agreement with a physician. Some states also use different titles to describe similar nursing duties, explains Concorde Career Colleges. Most states use the title licensed practical nurse, but Texas and California use the term licensed vocational nurse instead.
Nurse practice acts also dictate how many continuing-education units a nurse must complete to maintain an active license, according to Nurse.com. For example, Pennsylvania requires registered nurses to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years. Tennessee does not require any continuing education at all. However, nurses must demonstrate continued competency to maintain their licenses in good standing. In Florida, registered nurses are required to complete 24 hours of general continuing education per renewal period.