Advanced practice nurses are being taught to effectively administer primary care treatments in place of physicians. This level of practice responsibility is not available to registered nurses, as only advanced practice nurses have the level of clinical expertise to conduct treatments without the direct supervision of a physician.
A Reasonable Replacement for Primary Care Doctors
Unlike circumstances that require a team of medical specialists, primary care embraces basic treatments that a veteran nurse is perfectly capable of administering. Some oppose handing over full practice responsibilities to advanced practice nurses. These individuals discount the comprehensive clinical knowledge these nurse professionals attain through their education. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) typically includes at least eight years of postsecondary education, with doctoral candidates frequently having 10+ years of nursing experience.
With such extensive qualifications, it seems logical that doctorate nurses could play a central role in maximizing the efficiency of health care delivery. They can free-up resources and streamline the system by evaluating patients, diagnosing illnesses, and managing treatments without direct collaboration with a doctor. In many states, however, advanced practice nurses must still have a portion of their medical charts reviewed and approved by a supervising doctor. This limits the access of patients to health care, as nurses can only practice within a certain physical distance of their supervising doctor.
A Nurse’s Role in Primary Care
In places like Mississippi—the state with the most critical shortage of physicians—health care policymakers are currently exploring how best to incorporate nurse practitioners into primary care roles. While this may seem a simple issue, the challenge is actually quite complex. Groups that advocate more independence for nurse practitioners believe that physician-scare communities have nothing to lose by offering increased access to primary care via nursing professionals.
According to the Clarion Ledger newspaper in Mississippi, industry leaders who oppose increased autonomy for nurse practitioners cite that physicians receive far more in-depth post-graduate education and clinical experience than nurses. By this reasoning, they believe a physician must be at the top of any medical team, to maximize patient safety and health care outcomes. While these concerns are reasonable, industry research shows that nursing professionals who have earned their Doctor of Nursing Practice can deliver quality of care on par with doctors.
Advanced Practice Nurses: Effective Leaders
Being an effective health care leader often hinges on the ability to evaluate the current state of a system, program or policy, and lead the process of innovative improvement or reform. With their extensive knowledge of health care system leadership and clinical practice, advanced practice nurses are well equipped to guide health care institutions and care for the patients who fill them.
Through their leadership efforts, advanced practice nurses work to comprehensively improve quality, safety, and patient satisfaction. By sharpening their leadership proficiency through a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, nurse professionals can choose to influence health care in various ways. They can prepare themselves to impact primary care, or enter into nursing leadership roles such as nurse executive, nurse administrator, nurse supervisor, or health care policy advocate.
Creating Solutions to Health Care Problems
With the strain on health care systems increasing, health care professionals must be able to perform at levels beyond the standards of the past. In rural communities especially, the physician shortage continues to grow. Doctors often have few incentives to choose rural locations over urban communities that often offer more diverse work opportunities. Therefore, trained nurses are in high demand in these rural areas—even more so if they are academically and professionally qualified to provide primary care.
Beyond providing patient care, advanced practice nurses can also influence the growth of the nursing profession. Their expertise qualifies them to teach future generations the fundamentals of nursing care. This education helps nurses excel in their medical specialty, while also helping them understand how to promote health as a whole to their patients.
There is a need to help bridge the gap in primary care and executive leadership that is currently restricting the capacity of health care institutions. Nurses who hold a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing [BSN) are encouraged to take their mastery to the next level by pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Science. With the knowledge gained through this degree program, nurses can optimize their ability to perform clinical tasks. On a larger scale, they can acquire the leadership capabilities to be true agents of change not only in nursing, but in the modern delivery of patient care
Health care is seeing an industry-wide demand for advanced practice nurses trained at the doctoral level due to the changing landscape, drive for improved patient outcomes, and a shortage of qualified nurses. If you’re an RN with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and ready to take your career to a higher level, the Regis College’s BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice online program can prepare you for advanced nursing practice.