urse Practice Acts (NPAs) are laws in each state that are instrumental in defining the scope of nursing practice. NPAs protect public health, safety, and welfare. This protection includes shielding the public from unqualified and unsafe nurses. In each state, statutory law directs entry into nursing practice, defines the scope of practice, and establishes disciplinary procedures. State boards of nursing oversee this statutory law. They have the responsibility and authority to protect the public by determining who is competent to practice nursing. NPAs are the most important pieces of legislation related to nursing practice.
Common Law is derived from principles or social mores rather than from rules and regulations. It consists of broad, interpretive principles based on reason, traditional justice and common sense.
Together, the NPAs and Common Law define nursing practice. It is a nurse's responsibility to be informed on both the NPA and Common Law for the state(s) in which they are licensed and practice.
Listed below are links to the state boards of nursing for the United States. Each website has information on that particular state's NPA. Also listed is a link to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, which maintains an online database of NPAs.
National Council of State Boards of Nursing:
The NCBSN maintains a database which contains available NPAs from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories (Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands). Maryland's NPA is not available, per state restrictions.