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Health Policy Brief: Nurse Practitioners And Primary Care
A new Health Policy Brief  from Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation examines policy proposals that would allow nurse practitioners to practice to their full potential—and the extent to which the medical profession, policy makers, and patients are supportive of that effort.
Currently, about 55 million Americans live in areas with shortages of primary health professionals, a situation that may grow worse as the Affordable Care Act increases access to insurance coverage and the population ages and chronic illness increases in prevalence.
In nineteen US jurisdictions (eighteen states plus the District of Columbia), nurse practitioners—registered nurses who have also completed a postgraduate nursing degree—are allowed to diagnose and treat patients and prescribe medications without a physician’s involvement. These practitioners and their capabilities help to fill the void left by the current shortage in some parts of the country of primary care physicians. There is also a growing body of research showing that patients value access to consistent care from one particular provider, whether a nurse or a physician.
Topics covered in the brief include the following:
About Health Policy Briefs. The Briefs  are aimed at policy makers, congressional staffers, and others who need short, jargon-free explanations of health policy basics. The Briefs, which are reviewed by experts in the field, include competing arguments on policy proposals and the relevant research supporting each perspective
Previous policy briefs have addressed:
You can sign up for e-mail alerts about upcoming briefs . The briefs are also available from the RWJF’s Web site . Please feel free to forward to any of your colleagues who are tracking health issues. And after you’ve taken a look, we would welcome your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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