TULSA, Oklahoma - Nurse practitioners are headed to the state capitol Tuesday, February 12 to talk with lawmakers about ways to help turn Oklahoma primary health care around.

Changes to state law that would give nurse practitioners more freedom to care for patients. Tuesday is the third annual Association of Oklahoma Nurse Practitioners Day at the capitol, and the group is using the day to gain support from lawmakers for full-practice authority.

The Oklahoma Health Department says 76 of Oklahoma's 77 counties have declared a primary care shortage. That means Oklahomans are waiting longer and driving farther for health care.

The AONP said many Americans are now turning to nurse practitioners as primary care providers. But the group says current state laws limit the care they can give.

The AONP says an amended version of Senate Bill 839 would allow nurse practitioners - with seven or more years of experience - to prescribe medication without a collaborative agreement with a physician.

The group says 22 other states have laws allowing prescribing authority to nurse practitioners based on education and training.

The Oklahoma State Medical Association says it opposes the legislation.