The United States currently has a shortage of about 91,000 physicians including a shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians. With the implementation of healthcare reform, an additional 32 million individuals will be eligible for healthcare coverage and the shortage of primary care physicians will increase dramatically. Nurse practitioners will be essential in heping these individuals to get the care they need, however obstacles exist preventing nurse practitioners from helping to alleviate the physician shortage.
17 states allow nurse practitioners to practice independently. This is not supported by the AMA and AAFP who endorse MD oversight of nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioner schools are not large enough to accommodate all of their qualified applicants. A lack of nursing faculty and clinical sites prevents nurse practitioner schools from expanding their programs. These challenges are not easy to overcome. Nursing organizations must encourage states to pass legislation giving nurse practitioners more independence. Experienced nurse practitioners should be encouraged to volunteer their time to teach and train current nurse practitioner students.
MidlevelU believes nurse practitioners are qualified to practice independently and that they will be key players in alleviating the shortage of physicians especially with the implementation of healthcare reform.