Nurse Practitioners and Primary Care Practices
Because of the rigorous education and clinical experience required of Nurse Practitioners, several states have begun to allow independent Nurse Practitioner practices to provide health care and treatment to patients without the supervision of a doctor. Many states and medical programs like Medicare see the academics of a Nurse Practitioner program as comparable to that of a medical student, whether from a college, university or online nursing school, and enjoy the lower cost and easier access to healthcare that Nurse Practitioners provide to the public.
Independent Nurse Practitioners can help with the shortage experienced in the health care sector by fulfilling the role as a nurse as well as that of the physician, particularly in the "primary care" role. Although Nurse Practitioners have less academic and training requirements than doctors, it is believed that the requirements of a Master of Science in Nursing degree or Doctor of Nursing Practice are sufficient to fulfill the role of a general practitioner. More insurance companies, including Medicare, are paying Nurse Practitioners for primary care services, demonstrating a belief in the quality of care provided by Nurse Practitioners.
Much like a primary care physician, a Nurse Practitioner can diagnose and provide treatment for general health concerns. Once an issue is out of the scope of the Nurse Practitioner, referrals to specialists are made, working within the guidelines of "managed care medicine." This medical care even extends into obstetrics and gynecology, where Nurse-Midwives are allowed to practice much like an OB/GYN and provide women's health services without the supervision of a doctor, or Pediatrics and Neonatology, among other disciplines.
Primary care physicians are a large part of the growing health care provider shortage. As medical costs skyrocket and the availability of general care practitioners decreases, Nurse Practitioners are eager to fill these roles in an autonomous manner; providing quality healthcare to patients. Independent Nurse Practitioner practices are quickly becoming a viable option for advanced practice nurses with a graduate-level education across the country, reducing the worry for patients that require medical care during a health care crisis and establishing these medical professionals as leaders in medicine.
Nursing School Spotlight
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