Health Outcomes Improve States Where Nurse Practitioners Independently Provide Care

As America’s population age, life span lengthens as well and more individuals enroll in insurance plans under the federal Affordable Care Act, the need for health care professionals will continue to increase as well.

As estimated by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the health care market will fall short on demand by approximately 45,000 primary care physicians by the year 2020. Many states do not allow advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to perform primary care duties to their full potential. However, the University of Missouri researchers said that APRNs can eventually help relieve the shortage of healthcare workers and expand access to care for under served populations.

According to a recently published study conducted by the MU Sinclair School of Nursing researchers, the quality of health care is improved in states where APRNs are allowed to practice independently.

In states like Missouri, which has some of the most restrictive laws and regulation for ARPNs, physicians must oversee nurse practitioners’ work. In unrestricted states, APRNs may manage groups of patients with physicians consulted only as needed. Allowing APRNs to practice independently keeps costs down and improves access to care.

According to the research team, the data analyzed from previous studies that evaluated health outcomes and hospitalization rates of Medicare and Medicaid patients by state. In states where APRNs were fully independent in their practice, the researchers found significant improvement in quality of care and health outcomes.

According to the researchers, the movement for unrestricted APRN practice nationwide is happening right now because more and more states are changing their laws due to the improvement they have seen. They are actually looking ahead to the future and providing access to care.

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