Nurse practitioners fill a valuable role in the healthcare industry. With Master's degrees or higher, individuals in this profession offer exceptional and unique care by taking a holistic approach. NP services include anything from
Primary care shortages
Research published by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation explained that
Not only do these nurses deliver high-quality primary care, but it takes less time to train individuals in this career than it does doctors. Specifically, NPs can complete their education in six years whereas physicians must go through 10 to 11 years of schooling.
Furthermore, primary care shortage is especially problematic in rural areas, and NPs are stepping up to fill this gap. As the National Rural Health Association explained, the
Influx of ER visits
According to the AANP, NPs help lower healthcare costs, mainly because NPs boost well-being so much that patients spend less time in hospitals and have fewer emergency room visits. In fact, reducing ER visits was one of the goals under Obamacare, as it lowers pressure on ER professionals.
However, this decrease didn't happen, due largely to primary physician shortages. A poll of emergency physicians conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians found that
Certainly, visiting the ER is a suitable option for patients in need of immediate care. However, there are many individuals taking this route for non-emergency situations. Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Paul S. Auerbach, professor of emergency medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, explained that many patients head to the ER for non-urgent issues because it is their
The NP role stems beyond just treating patients. As noted, individuals in this profession take a holistic approach by also providing counseling and health education, giving patients the knowledge to determine when to schedule an appointment with their regular doctors and when to go to the ER. Furthermore, if doctor shortages are one of the root causes for ER visit upticks and research suggests NPs' high-quality care reduces this tendency, NPs may help solve this problem.
NPs' widening role
NPs are valuable to the healthcare industry because of their broader job roles. Unlike registered nurses, NPs can write prescriptions, make diagnoses and order diagnostic testing, among other important duties. While the job scope of an NP is more extensive than other nursing positions, giving them more authority could make these professionals even more useful, and the ACA is working to do that. According to the KFF, the ACA invested $50 million in nurse-managed health clinics. Meanwhile, the HHS granted $15 million to these types of clinics to help train over 900 NPs.
Need for quality care
Of course, NPs' high-quality care alone makes them a hot commodity in the healthcare industry. A systematic review published in the Journal of Nurse Practitioners, which looked at nearly 20 years' worth of data, found that
Subsequent research has demonstrated the efficacy of NPs' holistic approach. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reviewed the
Between their ability to fill the primary care physician shortage, reduce the amount of ER visits and provide exceptional care, it is clear why NPs are in demand.