Letter to the Editor

Nurse Practitioners are vital

Sunday, October 30, 2011

To the Editor:

* 60 million Americans lack adequate access to primary care,

* 56 percent of patient visits in American are primary care visits,

* Only 8 percent of medical school graduates pursue jobs in primary care and only 36 percent of physicians are primary care physicians.

These shortages have results in what we now know is a crisis in the Primary Health Care Arena. Having a primary care provider has been shown to achieve the best health outcomes yet the fact that nearly one in five Americans are without a primary care home is frightening.

As the healthcare provider shortage crisis looms, nurse practitioners are there to help. Nurse Practitioners offer the high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered services needed to help solve the increasing demand for healthcare in the United States.

Nurse Practitioners have graduate level, advanced education and clinical training beyond their registered nurse preparation. Most have master's degrees and many have doctorate degrees. Most are nationally certified in their specialty area and are recognized as expert healthcare providers.

Nurse Practitioners provide primary, acute and specialty healthcare services. They work as a partner with their patients to deliver a unique blend of nursing and medical care, helping them make educated healthcare decisions and healthy lifestyle choices. They provide a full range of services such as ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic tests; diagnosing and treating acute and chronic conditions; prescribing medications and treatments; and managing overall patient care.

Patients whose primary care providers are nurse practitioners have fewer emergency room visits and shorter hospital stays, resulting in lower out-of-pocket costs.

There are 148,000 Nurse Practitioners in America today in many different areas, including family practice, internal medicine, cardiology, emergency department, dermatology, pediatrics and more than 20 subspecialties; combined, these practitioners total more than 600 million visits per year.

Nurse Practitioners deliver top of the line care. They blend together a patient's physical and emotional health and assist them in making better lifestyle and health decisions.

They provide comprehensive, personalized health education and counseling combined with diagnostic expertise to care for the whole person.

Nov. 13-19 is National Nurse Practitioner Awareness week. Make your appointment today with a Nurse Practitioner -- for better health.

To find a Nurse Practitioner near you, visit www.npfinder.com.

Jessica Durbin,

Family Nurse Practitioner and Adjunct Professor at Indiana State University