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Nurse Practitioners and General Practitioners, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 312

Essay

A raucous debate has emerged in the medical community over a sensitive question: what should nurse practitioners’ role be in the medical system?  On the one hand, the number of general practitioners able to see patients is clearly stretched:  Since there will not be a sizable increase in the number of general practitioners in the near future, there is definitely a need for medical workers that can see patients and direct them either to a doctor or specialist.  At the same time, the medical community in general, and general practitioners in particular, are unwilling to give up substantial power in allowing practitioners to see patients- particularly if that means ceding powers acquired over the past 50 years.

The debate not only has implications for the future shape of medicine, but also for patients and the economics of health care.  While it is true that nurse practitioners have less medical training than general practitioners, no one is proposing that they replace the valuable role served by doctors.  Instead, they would be able to see patients with less severe, complex symptoms that would ultimately free up doctors to spend their time with patients who need it.  This complementary use of nurse practitioners would not only help to reduce the burden on doctors in the system, but would allow for a more efficient use of doctors’ time.

There is another issue hovering around this debate: Where doctors aren’t available, should nurse practitioners be able to see patients in the same way a doctor sees patients?  While this might not be the optimal solution, it might serve as a plausible solution in rural areas where doctors sometimes only have a minimal presence.  Overall, nurse practitioners need to be utilized in a more efficient way that allows the health care system to function more efficiently.

References

Flanagan, L.  (1998). Nurse Practitioners: Growing Competition for Family Physicians? Family Practice Management, 5(9), 34-43.

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