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5 Facts about Nurse Practitioners and Modern Healthcare

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Wrapping up our look at who nurse practitioners are and how their contributions to healthcare are evolving, here are five facts about NPs and their current and future role in the provider setting, courtesy of Angela Golden, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, over at Physicians Practice:

1. The nurse practitioner workforce in the U.S. is expected to grow dramatically.

Golden is not being sensational when she says “dramatically” either. She quotes a Rand Corporation study from July 2012 that predicts the nurse practitioner workforce will “reach 244,000 by 2025, an increase of 94 percent from 2008.”

In the United States, the number of NPs is nearing 200,000, with over 14,000 annual NP graduates, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

2. More than 45 years of research has consistently shown positive patient outcomes for NPs.

This is an important point, since the quality of care provided by NPs is often debated. Most folks, though, seem to zero in on the fact that NPs aren’t physicians, which does a disservice to both groups of providers.

Golden writes, “Nearly 50 years of peer-reviewed, independent analyses show that the outcomes of nurse-practitioner patients are equivalent and sometimes better than those of physicians.”

3. With each passing year, nurse practitioners are playing a larger role in America’s healthcare system.

Thankfully, the results discussed in #2 are proving themselves to patients. Golden reports that 2013 brought over 900 million visits to U.S. NPs, a reflection of data that shows “patients are consistently more satisfied with the care of nurse practitioners citing their holistic, patient-centered approach; the added health education and counseling; and the overall extra time spent with patients.”

4. Nurse practitioners are no longer the new kids on the block.

In fact, NPs will be a half-century old in 2015.

5. Collaboration does not require regulation.

This is perhaps the most important point Golden makes: “Even as NPs strive for autonomy in all 50 states, every day physicians and nurse practitioners treat each other with respect, professionalism, and congeniality across diverse healthcare settings. This collegial rapport is essential for the best possible patient care. NPs are committed to ensuring that these bonds endure.”

Is there a legal battle going on regarding the rights and responsibilities of NPs? Yes. Are there physicians who are pushing back against expanding those rights and responsibilities? Yes.

But it’s important to remember that nurse practitioners and physicians are working toward the same goal: providing quality, affordable care for patients.

As advanced practitioners and physicians who are looking for jobs, what role do you want to play in your next position in helping to provide that quality, affordable care? Do you feel that NPs and physicians need to communicate better than they currently are? If so, how can better communication be achieved?

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