On March 28, 2016, the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure filed proposed regulations with the Mississippi Secretary of State which would, among other things, change the maximum distance a nurse practitioner may practice under a collaborating physician’s supervision from 15 miles to 75 miles.

Current Board regulations define a “free standing clinic” as a clinic or other facility (excluding hospitals and certain other specialized facilities) where patients are treated by a nurse practitioner located more than 15 miles away from the primary office of the collaborative/consulting physician. Physicians who wish to collaborate/consult with a nurse practitioner practicing in a free standing clinic currently are required to obtain a special approval from the Board which requires, among other things, that the physician appear before the Board personally or by telephone.

The proposed regulations remove the term “free standing clinic” and the more rigorous approval requirements for free standing clinics and instead would provide that “Physicians are prohibited from entering into collaborative agreements with APRNs whose practice location is greater than 75 miles from the primary office of the physician. … A collaborative physician must be within 75 miles from the actively practicing APRN at all times.” Physicians additionally would be required to answer collaboration questions upon initial licensure and during each annual renewal cycle, with any changes in collaborative status required to be reported to the Board within 10 working days.

Thus, the proposed regulations, if adopted, would allow nurse practitioners to practice up to 75 miles away from the primary office of their collaborating physicians and offer greater flexibility for nurse practitioners — such as those located in rural areas — who have found it difficult to secure a suitable collaborating physician within 15 miles of their practice under the current rules.

Public comments on the proposed regulations should be submitted to the Board no later than April 22, 2016. There is presently no oral hearing scheduled on the proposed rule changes.

A copy of the proposed regulations, taken from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website, is available by clicking here.