“The U.S. faces a shortage of more than 13,000 physicians, a gap expected to grow to 130,000 by 2025, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. That could leave 7 million Americans living in areas without enough primary-care doctors.” (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)
As you can see as the Affordable Care Act takes effect, many Americans that have never had healthcare available to them will suddenly have it. We have all heard about the shortage that exists currently for primary care providers. Why is this? 1) Americans are living longer, 2) Chronic disease is on the rise, 3) Physicians can make more money specializing, 4) Nurse Practitioners in many states cannot practice without some type of supervision of a physician.
Today, in the state of TN Nurse Practitioners can own their own practice. They can see patients in their own offices and care for their needs – whether it be a cold, emphysema, diabetes, hypertension, ADHD, etc. What makes this scenario difficulty is that these Nurse Practitioners must pay a “supervising” physician in order to do this. Every Nurse Practitioner that prescribes medication in the state of TN must have a supervising physician. The physician must be available if consult is needed, and they must sign 10% of the Nurse Practitioners charts every month. How much does it cost to retain a physician in this capacity? While the numbers vary, it is usually somewhere between $1000 and $5000/month. This cost makes it very difficult for Nurse Practitioners to run and maintain their own practices.
Do Nurse Practitioners need supervision of a physician? I say absolutely “no”, and currently 16 states in the US agree with me. There a number of other states looking to remove this barrier currently. Now, the first thing people might say is – “what if my provider doesn’t know what is wrong with me?” Have you ever seen a physician call another physician about one of their patients? Of course, that call is FREE. It is professional courtesy we offer each other. Also, referring patients to other providers is an absolutely plausible answer.
Angie Golden, AANP President said the country can look to states where nurses already practice independently: “The key here is to remove barriers so that patients have access to a quality health care provider. And in 16 states, that already happens. Our physician colleagues will say they are saying ‘no’ for safety issues, but we know from those 16 states that safety is not the issue … the evidence clearly shows that we provide good quality, safe, effective care for those patients across the United States.”
So what can you do as citizens of the United States? Help Nurse Practitioners remove these barriers to practice. Removing these barriers would allow Nurse Practitioners to care for you in your community. This means less travel for safe, effective health care.
Take a minute and sign this petitions – to petition the federal government to help remove Nurse Practitioners barriers to practice in all 50 states!