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Nurse practitioners: The right prescription to ease doctor shortage
Date:11/12/2012

ANN ARBORReports indicate that Michigan faces a physician shortage much larger than the national average, and it will grow as millions of Americans qualify for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Yet Michigan law prevents the medical professionals who could best mitigate this shortage from doing so, because it prohibits advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) from using the full scope of their training and education to treat patients.

"Current regulations make it more difficult to provide much needed care," said Joanne Pohl, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan School of Nursing.

Pohl, former director of the U-M's Adult Nurse Practitioner Program, testified before Michigan's Senate Health Policy Committee on behalf of Senate Bill 481, which would allow nurse practitioners to practice under their own license, independently of physicians.

Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia have passed similar legislation allowing nurse practitioners to prescribe medications and practice physical and speech therapy, among other responsibilities.

Kathleen Potempa, dean of the U-M School of Nursing, believes the legislation is essential for plugging the hole left by the physician shortage, and for meeting the health care needs of Michigan citizens. It's also an issue for citizens in states with similar prohibitions on APRNs. Potempa cites a 2010 Institute of Medicine report stating that laws limiting the practice of APRNs are barriers to providing the optimal health care and that finds nurse practitioners and other APRNs highly competent in providing primary care.

"APRN education is carefully regulated through national standards for curriculum and certification examinations," Potempa said. "In practice, they must prove their proficiency through national boards, similar to how most medical specialties are regulated."

Pohl told the senate committee that Michigan's health professi
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Contact: Laura Bailey
baileylm@umich.edu
734-647-1848
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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