California clinics slow to offer contraceptive visits with nurses

In 2013, California passed Assembly Bill 2348, enabling registered nurses (RNs) to dispense or administer injections of most hormonal and barrier methods, including the Pill and patches. A new study of 1,073 public Family PACT clinics found that, within 18 months of AB 2348’s passage, only 7 percent had implemented RN contraceptive visits.

Provider counseling patient on contraception
The adoption of RN visits has also been geographically uneven: 73 percent of the clinics offering them are in Northern California or the Central Valley. Potential reasons for slow adoption include lack of awareness about the law, RN staffing shortages and competing care priorities.

Among the clinics that have adopted these visits, some promising trends have emerged. Sixty-eight percent of visits resulted in same-day dispensing and/or administering of at least one method, which suggests the visits can help ensure prompt access to desired care. Clinics that adopted RN visits also saw a 10 percent increase in birth control dispensing/administering.

Further research is needed to assess the quality and outcomes of the contraceptive counseling provided at RN visits. Once we better understand their impact, advocates can do more to target and support the clinics that would benefit most from implementing them.