Nurse Led Clinics: No Dr Required
Friday, March 7, 2014
Posted by: Marty Buonato
"Millions of Americans now have health coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act. But some are getting stuck on Step 2 – that is, finding a doctor.
Already, nearly a fifth of Americans live in areas with too few primary care physicians, and the shortage will only get worse as more people become insured. So, in some places, nurses are taking on the job of keeping people healthy.
In Milwaukee, a young boy named Earron Davis hops up on the exam table and swings his legs back and forth as a nurse takes his temperature and blood pressure. It’s the 10 year-old’s first visit to this new primary care clinic. It’s an area of Milwaukee with great healthcare needs, but few doctors. Physicians don’t want to be here because most people are on Medicaid, and doctors don’t make money off those patients. So Earron’s mom, Jessica Peterson, is happy there’s a new healthcare option so close to home.
"Cause there’s so many kids in the neighborhood that I’m sure has to go far out to see a doctor, so this is very, very, very convenient," Peterson says.
But the clinic hasn’t brought in any new doctors. Instead, nurse practitioners run it. They can handle the majority of primary care, and prescribe drugs. The clinic will still lose money on its Medicaid patients. But nurse practitioners cost a lot less than doctors. It’s a model that’s spreading.
"There has been tremendous growth in the nurse-managed health clinics, especially prior to the Affordable Care Act implementation, but certainly also now," says Tine Hansen-Turton, CEO of the National Nursing Centers Consortium. She says there are now 500 nurse-led clinics around the country, and the number will expand as providers look for less pricey ways to provide health care."
Full article by Erin Toner at Marketplace Health Care: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/health-care/nurse-led-clinics-no-doctors-required