How Nurse Practitioners are Changing American Healthcare for the Better

How Nurse Practitioners are Changing American Healthcare for the Better

Nurses make up the majority of healthcare professionals currently working in the US. Over the past few years, the shortage of nursing professionals and advanced nurses has led to an increasing demand for nurses to join the profession. Along with a demand for registered nurses, there is also a growing need for advanced practice registered nurses, such as nurse practitioners. 

A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse with at least a master’s degree in nursing and a license to work in advanced nursing care. Nurse practitioners can work in a variety of different specialty areas, but the most in-demand is the family nurse practitioner role, which is currently filling the gaps left by a shortage of primary care physicians. With fewer medical students deciding to take the primary care route, nurse practitioners are becoming increasingly needed across the country. 

Improving Patient Care Quality

Research has suggested that nurse practitioners are the best professionals to provide an equal standard of patient care that you would expect from a primary care physician. With more family nurse practitioners and adult-gerontology nurse practitioners stepping into primary care roles, patients are reporting high levels of satisfaction, with statistics showing that recovery and mortality rates have also reduced. Nurse practitioners have been proven to be just as, if not sometimes even more effective than primary care physicians when it comes to providing patient care due to their high level of training, nursing experience, and patient-centered approach.  

Providing Greater Reach for Physicians

Twenty states allow nurse practitioners full practice authority, but in the states that do not, nurse practitioners are required to work alongside and have their decisions authorized by a physician. However, nurse practitioners do not need to have full practice authority to improve the healthcare industry by making it easier for doctor’s offices and clinics to work more efficiently and treat a higher number of patients. In both primary and acute care, the presence of nurse practitioners means that physicians are no longer as over-stretched and the care of patients is split more evenly. Training to work as an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner with this program from Baylor University allows you to get into a role where you can play a significant part in providing greater reach to medical doctors and ensuring that a greater number of patients are able to receive the care that they need. 

Reduce the Impact of the Primary Care Physician Shortage

Right now, one of the biggest driving forces behind the demand for nurse practitioners is a shortage of primary care physicians. Family nurse practitioners are experiencing the highest demand since these professionals work in a similar way to a general practitioner, assessing and treating patients of all ages and with a wide range of conditions and injuries. Fewer medical students are deciding to go into primary care, with many favoring other specialist areas. While this has resulted in more specialist doctors to go around, it has caused a shortage of primary care physicians, which coupled with an aging population that typically require more primary and general care, could quickly become a serious situation without an alternative. Thankfully, nurses who have the required education and experience to work as family nurse practitioners are a great choice for filling this gap. 

Growth of Retail Health Clinics

With ERs and urgent care centers overstretched, retail health clinics have become a growing sensation in the US today. Retail health is a sub-field of the healthcare industry that has grown massively over the past few years, from just a few clinics to them becoming a common sight in grocery stores and drugstores across the country. Retail health clinics are assisting in reducing the pressure on emergency and urgent care services, along with freeing up doctors’ offices by providing patients with an option that they can easily use for any non-urgent health complaints, routine checks, and healthcare advice. In full practice authority states in particular, retail health clinics are typically run exclusively by family nurse practitioners, or retail health nurse practitioners, a new role that focuses on working in this type of healthcare setting. 

Patient-Centered Approach

Nurse practitioners are unique in the healthcare industry as a result of their holistic and patient-centered approach. Unlike primary care physicians who spend years in medical school before getting into their career, nurse practitioners need to have nursing experience behind them, with many professionals having spent years working as a registered nurse before advancing their career to work in this position. As a result of this, nurse practitioners are known for being some of the biggest patient advocates in the healthcare industry today. Their unique patient-centered approach means that they are focused on both primary and preventative care, positively impacting the healthcare quality delivered to patients nationwide. Nurse practitioners tend to have a more person-centered understanding of and approach to patient health and wellbeing, coupled with their scientific and medical knowledge. Compared to other healthcare professionals, they are more likely to work with their patients to provide education and counseling on disease prevention and health improvement to provide patients with the resources that they need to make the best decisions for their own health. 

Reduced Healthcare Cost

Although there is more research to be done on comparing the cost of nurse practitioner delivered care to that of care delivered by a primary care physician, preliminary data from health insurance companies finds that there is a difference. So far, comparing claims for care provided by a nurse practitioner to that provided by a physician has shown that nurse practitioner care typically costs less, despite being the same standard of quality. Some early studies have found that on average, the cost of visiting a nurse practitioner for healthcare or medical attention can cost up to thirty percent less than seeing a medical doctor for the same health issue or healthcare procedure. 

Nurse practitioners are stepping up to reduce the impact of a primary physician shortage. With this, they are providing more affordable healthcare options, reducing pressure on emergency and urgent care, and providing a better standard of healthcare to more people. 


Internal Link – Newtimezone

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