|Obamacare to impact nurse practitioners|
|Written by Kellie Flaherty, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Sunday, 06 May 2012 12:51|
With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” there is an increase in the demand for family nurse practitioners in the country.
Denise Wilson, associate professor of the Mennonite College of Nursing, defined the ACA as the government program that includes provision insurance coverage for the currently uninsured in our country, which is an estimated 49.9 million Americans.
“There is going to be a huge number of people who need care that aren’t in the health insurance system right now, and there’s not going to be enough people to take care of them,” Teresa Valerio, associate professor in the Mennonite College of Nursing, said.
Valerio also said there is a need for more nurses to become primary care providers because physicians tend to not go into primary care.
Wilson said those who are currently uninsured will have access to primary care, rather than having their health care needs cared for via emergency rooms.
“This primary care will be carried out by primary care providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants,” Wilson added. “The problem is that the number of physicians who choose primary care practice are decreasing.”
Wilson said the shortage of primary care providers is due to a decline in the number of medical students choosing primary care. She said there are just over 1,000 primary care physicians graduating per year.
“The shortage began in 1965 when it became a concern that there were not enough primary care providers in the country,” Valerio explained. “It has grown over time for a lot of reasons, including the trend for physicians choosing to not go to medical school and the aging of our population.”
Wilson and Valerio do not see the long-standing issue of a shortage of nurse practitioners ending any time soon.
ISU’s Mennonite College of Nursing is preparing students to deal with this demand through course work and clinical experiences.
Both Wilson and Valerio agree students who decide to become nurse practitioners get the best of both worlds in the medical field.
“Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced education to serve as primary care providers,” Wilson explained. “As nurses, there is the caring element, along with an emphasis on health education and health promotion. Family nurse practitioners treat the whole person.”
She added that while nurse practitioners in primary care in Illinois must have a collaborative agreement with a physician, the family nurse practitioners have quite a bit of independence in their practice.
Valerio said 85 percent of primary care can be done by nurse practitioners because of the similar work they do in comparison to physicians.
“Nurse practitioners excel in both caring and prevention for their patients, which gives them the best of both worlds,” Valerio added.