Nurse Practitioners High in Demand at Primary Care Centers

Many states have been considering options to increase the number of primary care providers in purview of growth in aging population and health insurance sector. More than 16 million individuals are projected to get health insurance coverage by 2016 and the number may go beyond.

In a move to meet the demand for primary care providers, states may reconsider their existing laws about allowing Nurse Practitioners (NP) in primary care. In the United States, currently, 16 states and the District of Columbia allow NPs to practice independently of a physician. NPs could contribute a lot if other states also consider allowing them in primary care. The Nurse Practitioners are well trained and qualified enough to provide diagnosis and treatment of acute illness and chronic condition.

States have been regulating the practice of medicine in the United States. There has been no consensus over the issue of allowing NPs due to their respective law of governing related to healthcare professionals. In order to meet the demand for primary care professionals, states could focus on reexamining their existing rules and regulations in this regard.

NPs, certified registered nurses, have been practicing in a variety of population focusing in the areas of family practice, pediatrics, women’s health and geriatrics. The number of Nurse Practitioners is likely to increase many fold in next 10 years. The states could capitalize the growing number of healthcare professionals by amending their existing governing laws related to NP practices.

As per AANP, 86.5% of NPs are trained in primary care and they could contribute a lot to the primary care workforce in the United States.

In the case of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), there are also differences among states regarding practices and legislation. Six states have fully implemented APRN Consensus Model whereas 10 other states have been considering the legislation. Currently, 267,000 APRNs represent a powerful force in the U.S. health care system.

States could meet the demand for more primary care professionals by liberating governing laws over practice of NP healthcare sector.

5 Facts about Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners (NP) have been providing primary care services amid shortage of physicians in the United States. As per the estimation of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), more than 205,000 nurse practitioners have been licensed till date. 99.3 percent of NPs are nationally certified and 98.7 percent of NPs have graduate degrees.

NPs are registered nurses who are well trained, educated to provide diagnosis and treatment of acute illness and chronic condition. NPs do posses complex decision-making skills and clinical competencies; those make them different from other nurses.

Here are 5 Facts about the Nurse Practitioners:

Primary Care: Most of the Nurse Practitioners have been working in primary care unlike registered nurses those are into all areas of healthcare. As per AANP, 86.5% of NPs are prepared in primary care. The U.S. primary care workforce includes around 56,000 as per statistics issued by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD in October 2014.

Quality Care: NPs are licensed to practice independently and have ability to diagnose patients, prescribe treatment and medication. They have been providing quality care like physicians and take charge of patients’ overall care. As mentioned in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioner issued on April 2010 stated that NPs provided high quality cares to patients no single case of lapses were reported.

Not to Replace Physicians: It has been considered by most that the growing number of NPs could drive away physicians’ practices or reduce their salaries. In fact, many studies  showed that the growing number of NPs would not have impact on the salaries of the physicians. The salaries of physicians are at par with NPs; but in some other states, the salaries of physicians are better than of NPs.

Medical Malpractice Cases: NPs have been providing high quality care to patients as it is evident from the less number of malpractice cases reported against them. Only 2 percent of NPs have been named defendants in medical malpractice cases. NPs have been offering patient-centered care by educating them about their lifestyle choices and healthcare decisions. Patients do prefer more care from NPs considering less medical malpractice rates against them. On the other hand, malpractice cases are high in nursing homes and centers in the United States.

Increasing Numbers: The number of nurses becoming NPs has been increasing significantly in the United States. According to AANP, currently 190,000 NPs are practicing in the country, where as the number was estimated at around 171,000 and 106,000 in 2013 and 2010 respectively. AANP estimates the number of NPs is likely to reach to 244,000 by 2025.

What is a Certified
Registered Nurse Anesthetist?

A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, or CRNA, is a medical professional who is one of the most advanced practicing and highest paid positions within the nursing profession. A CRNA administers anesthesia during surgical procedures when an anesthesiologist, a doctor, is unavailable at the moment. However, according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, a CRNA is actually a historic nursing profession dating back to the time of the American Civil War. These nurses were the actual pioneers of anesthesiology and were called upon during a time when the practice was in its infancy but war brought on a seemingly never-ending need to help ease the pain of wounded soldiers and surgery patients in the field as well as behind the lines medical facilities.

CRNAs Work As Team Members
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, or CRNAs, are some of the most advanced and highest paid of all nurses. CRNAs administer anesthesia during surgery, when an anesthesiologist physician is not available to do so. In fact, CRNAs actually predate anesthesiologists (physicians who administer anesthesiology). According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), CRNAs are “pioneers in the field of anesthesiology,” having come into existence during the civil war in the 1800s, when anesthesia itself was new, and was utilized to ease pain for soldiers and surgical patients.
CRNAs often work as part of a team with anesthesiologists. CRNAs enable more surgeries to be completed, with fewer anesthesiologists on staff. Depending on state regulations and the bylaws of the employing facility, CRNAs may be supervised by an anesthesiologist or work independently. Although CRNAs are very well-paid compared to other nurses, they are much more cost-effective for hospitals than employing multiple anesthesiologists. Therefore, CRNAs enjoy excellent job stability and high demand for their services, and it is highly unlikely that CRNAs would ever be entirely replaced by anesthesiologists.

CRNA Work Environments Are Typically Hospital-Oriented
Most CRNAs are employed by hospitals, and work in a surgical environment, such as an operating room. CRNAs also may work in outpatient surgery centers and medical offices. According to the American Nurses Association, CRNAs are responsible for delivering over 65% of all anesthetics administered to patients in the US. There are over 30,000 CRNAs practicing in the US, and just over half of them are men, based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the ANA.

CRNA Job Responsibilities are the Same as Physician Anesthesiologists
CRNAs function much like anesthesiologists (physicians who specialize in the administration of anesthesia and pain management). CRNAs are responsible for pre- and post-operative care as it relates to the delivery of anesthesia. A CRNA does a pre-op assessment of the patient, administers the anesthesia during the surgery, brings the patient back out of anesthesia, and then follows up to ensure the patient’s recovery from the anesthesia. According to the AANA, during surgery, the CRNA monitors the patient’s vital signs and adjusts the level of anesthesia accordingly, while coordinating with the surgical team.

Training and Education – How to Become a CRNA
CRNAs are one type of many Advanced Practice Nurses (APN). Therefore they must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or other applicable field, and be a licensed RN by passing the NCLEX-RN, the national licensing exam. Once licensed as an RN, one must have at least one year of nursing experience before gaining admission into a graduate nurse anesthetist graduate program, according to the AANA. Most nurse anesthetist graduate programs take two or three years to complete. After completing the graduate education, one must pass the national certification exam in order to practice legally as a CRNA.

CRNAs Make Good Money

According to the AANA, the average salary for CRNAs is $160,000 annually. The 2011 MGMA compensation report found that the median 2010 income for CRNAs was $151,139. The money is great. CRNAs can earn more than many primary care physicians, with a fraction of the education and training required. The job growth outlook is excellent. Employing CRNAs is very cost-effective for hospitals (anesthesiologists earn 2-3 times or more than CRNAs). Therefore, the demand for CRNAs is only going to increase.

So, What’s The Negative Scoop?
The responsibility is great for CRNAs, so it can be stressful. Also, depending on the size of the anesthesiology staff, the on-call schedule can affect your quality of life. However, individuals receive the training and have the necessary experience that enables them to adjust well to the demands of this exceptional nursing occupation that leads to a rewarding career and comfortable personal life.