As we had reported here some time ago, the new trend now is nurse-managed clinics. As more people are entitled to insured health care, the shortage of primary care physicians in becoming evident. The population is aging, and these people have no doctors to turn to, especially in rural areas. The solution to this problem is emerging as nurse-managed clinics are being opened by nurse practitioners – mainly np’s who have specialized as family nurse practitioners, or geriatric nurses, or pediatric nurses.
The cost of being treated by these clinics will be much less than the cost of going to see a physician, or going to an emergency room. This doesn’t mean that the treatment one receives there is worse. In many cases, what patients need is somebody who will sit with them, listen to them patiently and help them while attending to their specific needs. Nurses, apparently, will often do this job better. They will focus on the patient and not on the disease, making the medical care more humane.
Donna Torrisi, the executive director of the Family Practice and Counseling Network, says to the NY times: “In the hospital you’ll often hear doctors refer to a patient as ‘the cardiac down the hall”. This doesn’t happen when treated by nurses, as they are educated to see the patient. They will spend the time to talk to their patients, educate them about their disease and teach them how to manage it if it is chronic disease. As Jennifer Coddington, a pediatric nurse practitioner who is a co-clinical director of Family Health Clinics, says (in the above mentioned NY Times article):
A physician might suggest that a patient lose weight and hand him a diet plan — or refer him to a nutritionist. At the Family Health clinics, nutrition counselors — graduate students at Purdue — will sit down with patients to talk about the specific consequence of their diet, and suggest good foods and how to cook them, Coddington said. “When you don’t have enough money to buy fruits and vegetables, so you go to the dollar menu at McDonald’s — we help those people put planners together for the week.”
Although the education given by nurse practitioners programs is very extensive, and some of these nurses are very highly qualified, only 16 states (and Washington D.C.) give nurse practitioners complete independence. In most countries they have to overcome many legal obstacles, which is a shame considering the evidence being gathered of the professional treatment given by these clinics.