Freakonomics Radio episode, “Nurses to the Rescue!” takes an interesting look at the nursing profession.[i] The podcast puts forth the case that full practice authority for nurse practitioners is an answer to the doctor shortage in the United States.
The logic for this position is that nurse practitioners are routinely filling some of the roles once held exclusively by doctors, such as making diagnoses, issuing test orders and prescriptions, etc. Having additional nurses with full practice authority in the market would provide greater healthcare access, increase healthcare quality and would reduce healthcare costs, while at the same time decreasing the impact of a doctor shortage. The opposing side contends that while nurses are essential, nurses are not doctors. It is argued that the vast difference in training and experience for doctors requires primary care healthcare to be physician-led in order to provide the best patient care and that the solution to the doctor shortage is training more physicians to enter the market.
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have already granted full practice authority to nurse practitioners and more are exploring the concept.[ii] Regardless of which side of the debate you find yourself on, the implications are clear: Nurses play a vital role in healthcare, nurses are in demand and the demand for nurses is growing. This presents a tremendous opportunity for those who desire to enter the nursing profession and for those nurses who want to pursue higher-level nursing career options.
If you are exploring the idea of becoming a nurse or are an experienced RN looking to add additional credentials, Gwynedd Mercy University has the nursing degree programs for you to advance your career.