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Family Physicians Rap 'Stopgap' Use of Nurse Practitioners

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 24, 2012

Summers also takes "exception" with the report's contention that the shortage of primary care physicians is the primary driver for independent practice for nurse practitioners. 

"That certainly is part of what is driving the discussion, but all kinds of health policy think tanks have come out in the last couple of years with policy statements supporting the need to remove barriers for advance practice registered nurses," she says.

"So what is behind those proposals and that support isn't just the shortage. It's the fact that there are decades of evidence to support the safety and quality of care by nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses."

"People are beginning to realize that the restrictions we have now on autonomous practice don't do anything to increase the quality of care. We know they impair access. They lead to duplication of services. Once you slow down and duplicate services, you start increasing healthcare costs."

Summers says the scope-of-practice debate will always be around and continually evolving, and not just for doctors and nurses, but for all clinicians.  "No intelligent healthcare professional practices 'independently' in the way they are suggesting in this report," she says.

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2 comments on "Family Physicians Rap 'Stopgap' Use of Nurse Practitioners"


Dee Swanson DNP FNP (9/25/2012 at 12:55 PM)
There is no data or research that documents the need for the length of time that a physician must study before becoming competent to provide primary care. The is more than ample data that supports the safety and competence of NPs as providers of primary care. This is about power, control, turf and money as it always is with physicians.

Dr Reg Broekmann (9/25/2012 at 3:21 AM)
In South Africa we are piloting a new PHC system in which PHC nurses are connected to a designated Family Health Practitioner via a sophisticated communication system. Clinical discussions result in learning and improvement on PHC nurse competence and referrals are authorised by the Family Health Practitioner. The FHP then can monitor the progress of each referral and will give feedback to the PHC Nurse on the final diagnosis and treatment - another learning experience.