Christine Mitchell is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying nursing.
With the passage of State Senate bill 717 (SB 717), Pennsylvania has become the most recent state to expand the autonomy and practice rights of nurse practitioners. The bill, which passed on a 41 to 9 vote, amends the Professional Nursing Law, which was passed in 1951.  Under the new law, certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners (APRNs) can practice independently of physicians and issue oral orders. These practices will be regulated by the State Board of Nursing, as opposed to being regulated by individual facilities. Significantly, these practitioners will be permitted to prescribe Methadone, which is used to treat narcotic drug addictions. 
Advanced practice nurses are providers that have completed a bachelors of science in nursing (BSN) as well as a master's (MSN) or doctorate degree (DNP) in nursing. Throughout both the undergraduate and graduate training, students are placed in hospitals to gain direct patient care experience. Masters and doctoral students are paired with either a nurse practitioner or physician to receive advanced training in diagnosis and treatment planning. The majority of students entering master's programs have practiced as nurses, providing a foundation of knowledge about patient care.