Archive for February 14th, 2013

February 14, 2013

Nurse practitioners are projected to nearly double in number by 2025

by Grace

Obamacare may fuel demand for physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other jobs in the wake of a doctor shortage.

SACRAMENTO — As the state moves to expand healthcare coverage to millions of Californians under President Obama‘s healthcare law, it faces a major obstacle: There aren’t enough doctors to treat a crush of newly insured patients.

Some lawmakers want to fill the gap by redefining who can provide healthcare.

They are working on proposals that would allow physician assistants to treat more patients and nurse practitioners to set up independent practices. Pharmacists and optometrists could act as primary care providers, diagnosing and managing some chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high-blood pressure.

Replacing doctors with other professionals may end up costing more and could lower the quality of care.

Doctors say giving non-physicians more authority and autonomy could jeopardize patient safety. It could also drive up costs, because those workers, who have less medical education and training, tend to order more tests and prescribe more antibiotics, they said.

“Patient safety should always trump access concerns,” said Dr. Paul Phinney, president of the California Medical Assn.

Doctors want more funding for medical school tuition, but that would not fix the short-term staffing shortage.

“We’re not going to produce thousands of additional doctors in any kind of short-term time frame,” said Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento). “It makes sense to look at changes that could relieve the pressure that we’re going to undoubtedly encounter for access to care.”

Nurse practitioners and other non-physician providers already provide health care services in growing numbers.

The number of physician assistants in the U.S. more than doubled from 2000 to 2010….

The nurse practitioner population will nearly double by 2025, according to an analysis published in the July Medical Care, the official journal of the medical care section of the American Public Health Assn.

I’ve been very happy with the nurse practitioner who staffs our local drug store care center.  Their location and hours are convenient, and she usually offers to call the next day to check how the patient is doing.

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