There is no doubt that health care in the United States needs to be rebuilt. And that requires that all health care providers, including family physicians, think about the future of their individual professions.
Some health care professions, however -particularly nurse practitioners, or NPs – seem to see the current broken health care system as an opportunity to expand their scope of practice.
Many family physician practices have embraced nurse practitioners and physician assistants as physician extenders in their offices. These personnel are an essential component in ensuring patients receive timely and quality health care.
Nurse practitioners receive only two to three years of postgraduate training and 5,350 hours of clinical training compared with primary care physicians’ training, which includes medical school, residency and 21,700 hours of clinical experience.
The training and certification NPs receive may be appropriate for dealing with patients who need basic preventive care or treatment of straightforward acute illnesses and previously diagnosed uncomplicated chronic conditions. But patients with complex problems, multiple diagnoses or difficult management challenges require the expertise of primary care physicians working with a team of health care professionals.
NP’s and primary care physicians have plenty of demand for their skills. And when they join together to provide care for patients in a team setting, those skills are put to the best use.