Ending the HIV Epidemic, In Action
Ending the HIV Epidemic, In Action

Overcoming PrEP Access Challenges with
New Nursing Protocols

Dekalb County Georgia Map and Photo of Team Outside T.O. Vinson
Dekalb County Georgia Map and Photo of Team Outside T.O. Vinson

Many people in DeKalb County who could benefit most from PrEP get their health care from the county’s public health centers. But these health centers serve a wide range of health needs and have only a handful of physicians who can assess individual patients for PrEP. The Georgia Department of Public Health and DeKalb County Board of Health addressed these gaps in the HIV prevention workforce by leveraging a new take on an old idea: nursing protocols.

Nursing protocols allow RNs to receive training to evaluate patients and deliver a specific set of expanded care services, working closely with a delegating physician. These protocols are evidence-based and have been used since 1989 to address provider shortages. Recently, the Georgia Department of Public Health published a new protocol that allows RNs in the state to evaluate patients for PrEP and to order the medicine for eligible patients.

Expanding PrEP access via nursing protocols: Dr. Gregory Felzien
Dr. Gregory Felzien

“This PrEP training program allows us to expand the reach of the healthcare system by partnering with RNs to do the hard work of introducing PrEP to patients. This process encompasses everything from the initial evaluation and lab tests to coaching eligible clients through clinical considerations and follow-up appointments.”

– Dr. Gregory Felzien

Medical Advisor, Georgia Department of Public Health

Julia Brathwaite

Julia Brathwaite, Registered Nurse at T.O. Vinson Health Center helping to provide PrEP.

Danielle Carswell

Danielle Carswell, Clerk at T.O. Vinson Health Center helping clients navigate PrEP follow-up care.

DeKalb County used EHE resources to train RNs at T.O. Vinson Health Center to offer PrEP through Georgia’s new protocol. Today, five nurses, including one newly hired through EHE, are actively screening for and ordering PrEP. The health center plans to expand the training to all nurses who come on board.

“Our nurses serve on the front lines of health care and know better than anyone how great the need for PrEP is,” says Dr. Gregory Felzien, Medical Advisor for the Georgia Department of Public Health, who helped develop the protocol and led the RN trainings. “This PrEP training program allows us to expand the reach of the healthcare system by partnering with RNs to do the hard work of introducing PrEP to patients. This process encompasses everything from the initial evaluation and lab tests to coaching eligible clients through clinical considerations and follow-up appointments.”

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Page last reviewed: October 16, 2020