One solution to the primary care physician shortage may be nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners are given their own autonomy (depending on the state), and do not require supervision by a doctor.
One big advantage for nurse practitioners is the fact that they do not have to go through residency and are more cost effective for hospitals. However, nurse practitioners are not allowed to perform surgery or certain procedures.
In Washington, advanced nurse practitioners are able to prescribe medication and refer patients to other specialists. Washington may be giving nurse practitioners more independence in the future, due to the Affordable Care Act.
Summary by MedicalGroups.com
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