To help alleviate a shortage of primary care providers, Congress should reauthorize and fully fund nurse practitioner residencies in primary care clinics, said David Vlahov, RN, PhD, FAAN, dean and professor at the UC San Francisco School of Nursing. A three-year pilot program that ends this year established NP residencies in federally qualified health centers and nurse-managed health clinics as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Vlahov, writing a recent opinion piece in the San Francisco Examiner, urged support for a bill proposed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) that would reauthorize and fund NP residencies at $75 million for the next five years.
Vlahov in the opinion piece listed five reasons why the programs should be renewed:
~ A shortage of primary care physicians to meet the countrys healthcare needs, especially in underserved communities;
~ A greater demand for primary care providers, driven by an aging U.S. population and increased healthcare coverage under the ACA;
~ Substantial research showing nurse practitioners perform at least as well as physicians on clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction;
~ A need to train and support new graduates of nurse practitioner programs in complex clinical settings;
~ Opportunities for new nurse practitioners to work in teams with other providers, including physician colleagues, in a model that has proven successful for training physicians.
In the short term, reauthorizing and funding another five years for NP residencies is an effective, economic way to extend the primary-care workforce in the clinics implementing these programs, Vlahov wrote. Long-term, it gives researchers and policymakers an opportunity to rigorously gauge the value of the NP residency concept and establish best practices.