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Nurses’ role in the future of health care

As we inch toward 2014, the year that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the centerpiece of the health care overhaul, takes effect, it has become increasingly clear that the ship known as our health care system is in the process of sinking. And it is not spiraling costs or an overreliance on technology that is weighing most heavily on the health care system, but the sheer volume of patients it must serve.

Currently overloaded with a rapidly aging patient population and their attendant complex medical problems, the system has yet to absorb the 32 million newly insured patients on the horizon. Moreover, over the next 10 years, a third of current physicians will retire, and the physician deficit will increase from just over 7,000 to almost 100,000, with shortages in all specialties, and not just primary care.

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