A Registered Nurse in Amarillo has become the first nurse practitioner in Texas to be granted 'full practice authority,' News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

That means Charlene Seale will be able to do essentially everything a medical doctor is legally allowed to do, except perform surgery.  She will be able to diagnose and treat disease and prescribe medications.

A law that was introduced in the Texas Legislature earlier this year would have granted Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, upon qualification, the right to practice medicine without the supervision of a medical doctor.  The bill failed to pass, but the Coalition for Health Care Access says a bill like that is needed due to a very critical lack of doctors in Texas.

"Twenty percent of Texans lack access to a primary care provider, and Texas was recently listed as 51st in the nation on access to and affordability of health care," the Coalition said in a statement.  "As Texas' population increases, the growth in new physicians is not keeping up with demand.  Mediccally underserved areas and regions with low-income populations are most negatively impacted by regulations on APRNs.  Without access to primary care, patients end up in costly emergency rooms, or with more serious, untreated illnesses."

Seale is allowed 'full practice authority' because she works for the Veterans Administration, and the VA allows qualified APRN's the privilege.  She can only exercise full practice authority within the VA medical system.

The coalition says another negative impact of the fact that the law failed is that states which grant APRN's full practice authority, as well as the VA, are actively recruiting APRNs in Texas to move there, further denying Texans badly needed medical care.