California Law Releases Nurse Practitioners From Physician Oversight


The state will be the 29th to allow nurse practitioners to practice without a physician.

California nurse practitioners (NPs) will be able to practice on their own without physician supervision, after Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law, titled AB 890, opposed by various physician groups. According to a report in The Sacramento Bee, the law, which goes into effect in 2021, will allow NPs to practice independently beginning in 2023 after operating under a physician’s supervision for 3 years.1

Under current regulations, NPs must always work under a physician’s supervision. This law brings the total number of states that allow NPs to practice without doctor supervision to 29.

“We are pleased that the Governor and the Legislature recognize the importance of expanding access to highquality health care for all Californians,” said Patti Gurney, MSN, NP-BC, president of the California Association for Nurse Practitioners in a press release. “We are especially grateful to Assemblymember Wood, who led these efforts, and all of our many coalition partners who worked collaboratively to address concerns and craft a new law that will expand access to health care.”

However, not everyone is in favor of the law.

The California Medical Association (CMA) opposed AB 890, and after Newsom signed it, CMA president Peter N. Bretan, Jr., MD, released a statement expressing disappointment in its passage.2

“We strongly believe that physician-based care is the model that ensures the greatest patient safety and highest quality care for all Californians, regardless of income,” he said in the statement. “And while proponents of AB 890 have said this legislation will help increase access to care, the data we have seen from other states that have eased supervision of nurse practitioners has not shown any meaningful improvement in access to care in underserved communities.”

Bretan also said that the legislation has many steps to go before it is implemented and that the CMA intends to remain engaged in the regulatory process.

“While the Bureau of Registered Nursing will play an important role, the implementation of key provisions of the bill will require physician involvement and will likely require input and guidance from the Medical Board of California,” he said. “CMA will be engaged throughout the regulatory process to ensure that patients’ interests, including the timely access to a physician, are protected in the implementation of AB 890.”


  • Bollag S. New California law aims for more medical providers by giving nurse practitioners more authority. The Sacramento Bee. September 29, 2020. Accessed October 13, 2020.
  • CMA president issues statement in response to Gov. Newsom’s signing of AB 890. California Medical Association. September 29, 2020. Accessed October 13, 2020.

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