Currently, health care providers and policy makers in the United States of America are grappling with dramatic changes in the health care system. One of the major concerns is a protracted shortage of care providers, more so in primary care. Many experts advised that advanced practice nurses ought to play more considerable role in addressing the shortage of care providers. There have been dissenting voices suggesting that using advanced practice nurses to meet the deficit in care providers is rather inappropriate. With reports suggesting that physicians are shying away from careers in primary care, the future is grim at best. With perspectives from Hamric, Spross & Hanson (2008), this paper will feature a process analysis that highlights the challenges facing advanced practice nurses and the future of primary care.
Background Information on Primary Care
Primary care consists of a wide range of services. These include the evaluation of symptoms when a patient initially comes to a health facility, ongoing management of chronic diseases and different preventive services like screening and immunization. Increased accessibility of primary care is said to result to decreased mortality rates, and lower visits to the emergency department and hospitalization. The provision of primary care services is done by physicians and other nonphysician practitioners. These include nurse practitioners and physician assistants, both of whom should have graduate degrees and are also certified to examine, make a diagnosis and offer treatment to patients. The shortage of these primary care practitioners, compounded by increasing patients due to increased attainment of medical insurance and the Affordable Care Act, means that primary care services are decreasingly available.
Challenges Facing Advanced Nurse Practitioners
One of the biggest challenges facing advanced nurse practitioners is the overwhelming traffic in hospitals and other health care facilities. This is the result of many factors, two of which have been espoused earlier. Other factors include increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, an aging generation, and increasing complexity of care. This Most of these conditions are not detected and treated by primary care practitioners because their services are not easily accessible. Physicians Payment systems remunerate more for specialty care when compared to primary care. This causes graduating health professionals to opt for specialty care, a factor that has contributed to the shortage of primary care practitioners.
The future of Primary Care
As espoused earlier in the discussion, the situation facing primary care is very grim. With every passing day, the shortage of primary care practitioners seems to get direr than before. However, this situation can be, and should be remedied because the role of primary care in the health care system cannot be denied. Suggestions have been floated to the effect of widening the scope of advanced practice nurses. However, there have been concerns of patient safety, and this has dampened any efforts to that effect. The future of primary care lies with the policy makers. It is imperative to revamp the primary health care so that it is as attractive to graduating medical professionals
The primary care nurse practitioner is very important in the health care system. Her role is unparalleled, now more than before because of the changing dynamics due to increasing prevalence of chronic diseases and new policies in health care provision. As such, it is important to arrest the situation so that it does not aggravate further.
Hamric, B., Spross, J. & Hanson C. (2008).Advanced Practice Nursing: An integrative Approach. Fourth Edition Saunders