Updated: Can NP’s Stop the Healthcare Shortage

We’ve talked a lot about the shortage in the past but it is still a real threat.

There’s no doubt the healthcare shortage will be a significant issue in the political agenda in the year to come.

The demand is expected to grow by 10%in the next seven years, a rate we are not prepared to take on. With the baby boomers reaching retirement age, the United States population is expected to hit an increase of 18 million. The nurses per capita will be on a decline while the population continues to grow.

Nurse Practitioners are an avenue that may be a saving grace to the issue. Their versatility could help cover the gaps that are sure to follow.

The shortage affects everyone, but it hits worse in rural areas where access to proper healthcare is already limited. This is due to the nurse to patient ratio growing year after year. There may very well over 3.6 millionpositions to fill in 2030 just to keep the ratio manageable.

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The Nurse Practitioner can examine a patient, order and read tests, diagnose patients, and prescribe medication. They are an advanced more flexible registered nurse. This is the case in every state. Every NP practice under the laws and licenses of each state that allow them to work in more than just hospitals.

There are currently over almost 280,000 active NPs working in the United States. They projecting a 31% growth of the NP workforce due to the need for such a versatile position. It’s a common opinion that NPs are being underutilized despite their qualifications. An NP has first to become registered nurses then go on to get a master’s or doctorate in advanced clinical education; they then have to complete board certification before working in their specialty.

3 in 4 NPs are trained for primary care such as geriatric care, women’s health, and pediatric care. The amount of primary care physicians is dwindling while the amount of nurse practitioners continues to grow. This is important because NPs are more willing to work in underserved areas.

Only 22 states have authorized full practice authority which allows them to work more autonomously without physician supervision and approval. There are still a large number of states that have yet to modernize their regulations and limit NP’s responsibility.

According to a recent study, 6 of the top 10 states for healthcare have authorized full practice authority. Moreover, only one of the worst ten states for healthcare has permitted full practice authority, Wyoming, due to its rural landscape. FPA states have performed better than Non-FPA states.

Another way the healthcare industry could further utilize nurse practitioners would be to authorize NPs to sign their forms for the treatment they administer instead of needing to obtain approval from a physician or other third-party source. Moreover, create an improved reimbursement method that allows a more secure way for NPs to certify their care is covered.

Technology can also help further the versatility and time of a NP. Between the advancement of healthcare technology making things easier and safer for both nurse and patient, training is becoming easier with the ever changing industry. It has changed the ways we process patient data and forms. This saves on time to help cover more patients.

Nurse practitioners deliver first-class primary care and increase patient success and satisfaction by focusing on prevention. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the average NP sees 3 to 4 patients an hour, a number that can be increased with FPA. The future is in the hands of the legislators, and things are starting to look positive for healthcare as long as policymakers can see the value of the versatile nurse practitioner.

 

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