High Demand for Nurse Practitioners in the US
With the introduction of Obama Care in the US in 2014, the health care industry will have to double its current number of Nurse Practitioners over the next ten to fifteen years to keep up with the demand of medical care.
Since Primary Care Physicians can barely keep up with the high demand of patients now, imagine what it will be like next year when upwards of 30 million people will finally have access to health insurance under Obama Care. The demand for quality health care professional will significantly increase just to keep up with the number of new patients.
Dr. Wanda Filer, a Physician in York, Penn., and a board member of the American Academy of Family Physicians says, “We need all hands on deck. We need more family physicians. We need more primary care nurse practitioners; we need more Physicians Assistants need pharmacists. Everyone with a focus on the patient,”
The US is facing a desperate need for Primary Care Physicians. While it is estimated that several thousand Primary Care Physicians are practicing today, by 2050 that range is estimated to increase to over 52,000. Annual spending on primary care is approximately $200 billion. It is no surprise that current Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Pharmacists and others are stepping up to the plate to fill the gaps in coverage. Should Primary Physicians be worried?
Rand Corporation Health Economist David Auerbach thinks that there is good reason for Primary Care Doctors to be concerned. Nurse Practitioners can treat 85 per cent of what a Primary Care Doctor can treat. For powerful medical organizations like the Family Physicians and the American Medical Association, all is not lost. Groups advocate that providers should work together with the physician running the show.
“Currently there are 12 states with active legislation looking at utilizing nurse practitioners at the top of their education to meet patient care needs,” says Tay Kopanos with the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
Nurses are advocating overturning laws that require some level of Physician supervision, like for writing prescriptions or diagnosis of an illness.
Doctors are mainly concerned about patient safety and less concerned about other health care professionals essentially stealing their jobs. A Doctors training far exceeds any other medical professional and their main concern would be that a Nurse or Physicians Assistant would miss something important.
“I see it as physicians being true to their oath and being true to their training and education. And I think most physicians feel that way. They are not threatened by this. At the end of the day what they want to do is deliver the best healthcare possible,” says Dr. Adris Hoven, president-elect of the American Medical Association.
Not every doctor feels this way. Dr. John Rowe at the Columbia School of Public Health says that in some cases, Nurse Practitioners are already working without Primary Care Doctors. There is evidence that in up to 17 states some Nurse Practitioners are working independently from doctors and there is no evidence that it is not good for patients. As a doctor, Rowe understands why doctors are worried if doctors and nurses cannot come together to solve the primary care shortage, it could lead to an agonizing and expensive lesson for everyone involved.
Additional Resource on Obama Care: