Allowing nurse practitioners to provide a broader range of care can improve health outcomes in underserved rural and minority communities according to a new WVU study
The study ties together the worsening shortage of primary care providers, the importance of enabling patients from communities of color to choose primary care providers who share their racial and ethnic backgrounds and the debate over allowing nurse practitioners to exercise Full Practice Authority .
West Virginia is one of 26 states and D.C. to allow full practice authority to Nurse Practitioners.
Alicia Plemmons coordinated the research at the new Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation at West Virginia University.
“Allowing these nurse practitioners to be able to treat patients independently, allows them to have the mobility to move into new places and to seek new patients that may not have had health care otherwise,” Plemmons said.
The study also found that enabling patients from communities of color to choose primary care providers who share their racial and ethnic backgrounds led more people to seek medical care.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States is facing a projected shortage of between 17,000 to 50,000 by 2034.
“Now is that the concern of potential primary care shortage, especially because many physicians tend to go into specializations that may be more monetarily lucrative,” Plemmons said. “The idea is we have an aging population, we have so many individuals, what are we going to do when it comes to primary care access? A majority of nurse practitioners actually focus particularly on primary care, and they tend to work more in areas that may not have the same health care access.”