Alaska Nurse Practitioner Association

Policy Brief important to NP practice

Posted over 6 years ago by Tracey Wiese


Expanding the Role of Nurses in Primary Care

New Policy Brief Explores the Role of Nurse Practitioners in Providing Primary Care
A new policy brief from Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation explores how nurse practitioners can help meet the growing need for primary care, if state and federal policy-makers remove barriers that limit their ability to provide, and get paid for, a wider range of preventive services and acute care. The federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) designated roughly 5,700 geographic areas in the United States as regions that have too few primary care providers to meet local needs. Nearly 55 million U.S. residents live in these areas. According to the brief, the gap between providers of primary care and the number of people who need it may increase, due largely to the aging U.S. population and increased insurance coverage for many primary care services, which is part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Proponents of expanding the nurse practitioners’ role in providing primary care say studies show that nurse practitioners do better than physicians on measures related to patient follow up, time spent in consultations, and providing screening, assessment, and counseling services. Supporters point to a 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommending changes at the state and federal levels to allow nurse practitioners to practice to the full extent of their education. Others oppose the expanded role of nurse practitioners, however, citing concerns over patient safety and emphasizing the differences in education and clinical training between nurses and physicians.

The brief’s authors say that state policy-makers will have the opportunity to consider changes to licensure and scope of practice requirements as they implement more provisions of the ACA.

•      Read the policy brief.

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