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Expanding the Role of Nurses in Primary Care

New bill could allow APRNs to open practices

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Westport, CT | Added on April 16, 2014 At 09:29 PM

Here at Willows Medical Center in Westport, many doctors have primary care practices.  Well, take a good look around because these practices soon could be run by nurses if a bill is passed by the Connecticut State House.

"It's really the same thing they've always been able to do. They just won't be under a physician's control or observation," said CT. State Senator, Bob Duff.

In Connecticut, nurse practitioners can not practice independently from doctors, meaning often times they must pay a fee to doctor in order to join their practices.  And, sometimes they are left without a job when the doctor retires or moves.

The bill now lying before the House seeks to remove that requirement, giving nurses greater freedom in this new age of medicine.   

 "We are trying to expand people's access to healthcare and I believe this bill does that in a responsible way," he continued.

APRN’s are high quality health care providers, holding: state licenses, national certificates and advanced degrees.  And, that means nurses can diagnose illnesses, prescribe medicine and order health screenings just like a certified doctor.

 "Nurse practitioners are the future of primary care," said Professor Meredith Kazer of Fairfield University's School of Nursing. "But with this collaborative practice requirement intact, we are not able to open our own practices without practitioners practicing with us," she said.

Professor Meredith Kazer of Fairfield University says the bill’s passing is crucial when it comes to the Affordable Care Act.  Fewer doctors today are choosing to practice primary care. And, in order for the Affordable Care Act to work more than 60,000 primary care providers are needed by 2015.

 "Here's what's going to happen.  People are going to say, oh great I have insurance.  They're going to start calling around for primary care providers and the offices are going to say, sorry we aren't taking new patients," she explained. "If Connecticut is able to remove this requirement today, we are going to be the leaders in the nation in being able to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act," she said.

There are some arguments against the bill.  Some say the lawmakers are reducing the training needed within medicine, and others say APRN’s aren’t trained for complex medical issues

 


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