NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Nurse Practitioners Look to Fill Gap with Expected Spike in Demand for Health Services

May 17, 2012

President Obama's health care law is expected to expand health insurance to 32 million Americans over the next decade.  Health policy experts anticipate that the wave of new insurance subscribers will lead to a spike in demand for medical services.  This begs the question of who will provide that care, says the Washington Post.

Nurse practitioners are rolling out a campaign to explain what, exactly, nurse practitioners do -- and why patients should trust them with their medical needs.  Perhaps the greatest argument in their favor is that expanding their mandate will help to support a fragile health care sector in a trying time.

  • The expansion of health care coverage by the federal government is expected to grant health insurance to an additional 32 million people.
  • As a consequence, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the country will have 63,000 too few doctors as soon as 2015.
  • Facing this crucial shortage, expanding the powers and capabilities of the nation's 155,000 nurse practitioners would help to alleviate the extreme pressure that will come to bear on medicine.

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), therefore, has decided to begin a full-court press to increase the powers of nurse practitioners in treating patients.

  • Through advertisements, public service announcements and events, the organization will try to raise the profile of the country's nurse practitioners.
  • This public education campaign is necessitated by the lack of knowledge Americans have about nurse practitioners: only 14 percent of Americans surveyed, for example, knew that nurse practitioners could prescribe medication with a physician's supervision.
  • The AANP will also engage in full-tilt lobbying efforts at the state level to remove limitations on of nurse practitioners.
  • For instance, in only 16 states can nurse practitioners practice without the supervision of another professional such as a doctor.

The AANP effort will help to take advantage of the substantial expertise that nurse practitioners possess.  Though fully trained doctors have an incredible amount of field training and formal education, nurse practitioners also have graduate degrees that allow them to perform beyond the standard responsibilities of a registered nurse.

Source: Sarah Kliff, "Nurse Practitioners Look to Fill Gap with Expected Spike in Demand for Health Services," Washington Post, May 12, 2012.

For text:


Browse more articles on Health Issues