Is There a Way To Reduce the Cost of Primary Care?
As policy makers continue researching on the best ways to reduce the cost of primary care, one of the touted methods involves the reduction of the restrictions placed on advanced nursing practitioners to enable them to offer primary care that has been the preserve of physicians (Beresford, 2016). The advanced practice nurses (APNs) often have more experience than the new resident doctors but are not allowed to carry out the duties of a general physician. This is because of the policy adopted in the 1930s that barred nurses from carrying out the duties of a physician. It is a tenable method of reducing the cost of primary care because the cost of accessing services from APNs is much lower than that of general physicians. There are some hurdles to overcome before this can become a reality.
Changing the policy so that nurses can engage in the functions of doctors is very possible. However, there are concerns that the general population might not be willing to have their primary care taken over by APNs. This is a cultural factor, as most people tend to believe that nurses are beneath doctors in terms of qualifications and performance (Beresford, 2016). Accessing doctors is harder compared to getting the services of a nurse. However, most of the patients that receive services from nurses rather than doctors assert that the quality of service given is more or less the same. Moreover, the medical expenses incurred are significantly reduced. The number of advanced practice nurses in the market supersedes that of the physicians. This makes it easier to get an appointment with a nurse and receive attention on time.
The few persons that have received primary care from nurses, for instance, when a physician is not available, have commended the nurses for their competency in offering services. Unlike most physicians, nurses are trained extensively in people skills and are better at handling cases involving emotional and disturbed patients. The nurses also spend a significant amount of time with the patients, unlike doctors who are often only available for brief consultations (Wynne, 2015). Advanced practice nurses undergo more rigorous training than the traditional RNs. Consequently, they better comprehend the details in their area of specialization. The training of an advanced practice nurse not only entails the passing of exams but also on the-job-experience. As a result, they are better placed in the provision of primary care than most of the newly graduated doctors.
The training of the advanced practice nurses blends the diagnosis and treatment with health management and disease prevention. Consequently, the APNs become more helpful to the patients and the general public at large. This approach to healthcare is more comprehensive when compared to the current system in place (Wynne, 2015). The nurse practitioners are also mandated to educate the public on health matters, which has the likelihood of hindering the people from needing health services if they already know how to prevent common health complications. Policy makers fear that the nursing bodies and associations the physicians might conflict as a result of having APNs replace doctors. There is a great opportunity in lowering the cost of primary care using the advanced practice nurses, but this has to be done with the goodwill of the people and the states concerned.
Beresford, D. (2016). Advanced Practitioners and Assistant Physicians: What’s the difference?. Journal Of Neonatal Nursing, 22(2), 53-54.
Wynne, M. (2015). Can Nurses Replace Doctors? Nurse.org. Retrieved 24 October 2017, from https://nurse.org/articles/can-nurses-replace-doctors/