It is no secret that the current healthcare reformation is a contentious matter that promises to transform the way Americans view an already complex healthcare system. The newly insured population is expected to increase by an estimated 32 million while facing an expected shortage of up to 44,000 primary care physicians within the next 12 years (Doherty, 2010). Amidst these already overwhelming challenges, healthcare systems are becoming increasingly scrutinized to identify a way to improve cost containment and patient access (Curits & Netten, 2007). “Growing awareness of the importance of health promotion and disease prevention, the increased complexity of community-based care, and the need to use scarce human healthcare resources, especially family physicians, far more efficiently and effectively, have resulted in increased emphasis on primary healthcare renewal…” (Bailey, Jones & Way, 2006, p. 381). The key to a successful healthcare reformation is interdisciplinary collaboration between Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) and physicians. The purpose of this paper is to review the established role of the FNP, appreciate the anticipated paradigm shift in healthcare between FNPs and primary care physicians, and recognize the potential associated benefits and complications that may ensue.
Description of the Topic
The American Nurses Association (2008) has defined the FNP, under the broader title of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), as one “who is educationally prepared to assume responsibility and accountability for health promotion and/or maintenance as well as the assessment, diagnosis, and management of patient problems, which includes the use and prescription of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions” (p. 7). The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (2010) complements this definition by adding that Nurse Practitioners have distinguished themselves from other healthcare providers by offering a unique blend of nursing and medical care. They stress both care and cure while being the more cost effective option. Studies have shown that using Nurse Practitioners results in a quality of care equivalent to physicians with high patient satisfaction rates.
Nurse Practitioners are a relatively new concept within the American healthcare system. The first Nurse Practitioners were educated in 1965, the same year that Medicaid was established, in response to a nationwide shortage of physicians. Loretta Ford, RN and Dr. Henry Silver introduced the first informal training program for Nurse Practitioners at the University of Colorado. This model was not well received by some nursing leaders or physicians (Mundinger, 1994). Certain nursing leaders believed that nurses were no longer practicing nursing and the title of Nurse Practitioner was misleading. Medical physicians opposed the concept of nurses functioning as an expanded role under the direction of a physician. Facing these challenges and...