Should the Legislature decide to grant APRNs The term “nurse” usually encompasses all levelsindependent practice, the state may experience an of nursing training. This includes certified nurs-unintended erosion of its primary care workforce, ing aides, who perform non-medical acts mostly inas students interested in primary care eschew the a supportive role for patients incapable or unable torigorous educational requirements and financial in- perform basic activities of daily living, and licensedvestment of medical education in favor of the easier, vocational nurses, or LVNs, who usually obtain cer-shorter, and less costly pursuit of nurse practice. tification within one year, as described in the Texas Occupations Code, and who may work in medicalDefinition Under the Nurse Practice Act settings with the ability to administer medications To properly discuss the prospect of expanding the or treatments as ordered by a physician. One whoscope of practice of APRNs, it is important to clarify works with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, a BSN, hasthe roles of the different levels of nursing in the state completed a four-year degree including the basic sci-of Texas. Not all nurses are created equal. By defini- ences, limited pharmacology, some clinical exposure,tion under Title 3, Subtitle E, Chapter 301, Section and has completed a standardized test.301.002(2), Occupations Code (Nurse Practice Act): APRNs include a variety of subcategories of nurs- ing that require extended training, usually on a mas- “Professional nursing” means the perfor- ter’s level, which comprises up to two additional mance of an act that requires substantial years of school and more clinical exposure. Examples specialized judgment and skill, the proper of APRNs include certified nurse midwives, nurse performance of which is based on knowledge anesthetists, and nurse practitioners. Nurse practi- and application of the principles of biologi- tioners are further grouped into subspecialties that cal, physical, and social science as acquired range from general or family practice to hematology by a completed course in an approved school and oncology. Although many unofficial subspecial- of professional nursing. The term does not ties for nurse practitioners exist, nine are recognized include acts of medical diagnosis or the by the most widely used credentialing service, the prescription of therapeutic or corrective American Nursing Credentialing Center: acute care measures. Professional nursing involves: (A) NPs, adult NPs, adult psychiatric and mental health the observation, assessment, intervention, NPs, diabetes management NPs, family NPs, family evaluation, rehabilitation, care and counsel, psychiatric and mental health NPs, gerontological or health teachings of a person who is ill, NPs, pediatric NPs, and school NPs.6 injured, infirm, or experiencing a change Requisites to obtain an advanced degree are del- in normal health processes; (B) the mainte- egated by each state nursing board, but generally re- nance of health or prevention of illness; (C) quire at least one year of extra schooling that focuses the administration of a medication or treat- on pathophysiology and pharmacology, and some ment as ordered by a physician, podiatrist, clinical exposure. For the purposes of this paper, at- or dentist; (D) the supervision or teaching of tention will focus on primary care nurse practitio- nursing; (E) the administration, supervision, ners, which represent general, geriatric and pediatric and evaluation of nursing practices, policies, NPs. While obstetrics is considered a primary care and procedures; (F) the requesting, receiving, service, certified nurse midwives cover this aspect of signing for, and distribution of prescription nursing rather than nurse practitioners. drug samples to patients at sites in which a registered nurse is authorized to sign Comparing the Education of Nurse prescription drug orders as provided by Sub- Practitioners and Family Physicians chapter B, Chapter 157; (G) the performance Little data exists comparing the quality and cost of of an act delegated by a physician under care provided by nurse practitioners, but the difference Section 157.052, 157.053, 157.054, 157.0541, in training is starkly evident. Nurse practitioner training 157.0542, 157.058, or 157.059; and (H) the programs vary greatly in the quality and requirements of development of the nursing care plan. their curricula and lack national standardization, espe- cially in comparison to the highly standardized process It is important to note that by definition, a nurse’s of medical training. While one NP program may allowscope of practice does not include independent diag- for a degree online with a few hours of clinical expo-nosis and treatment of disease processes. These two sure, another, such as the UT-Austin Nurse Practitionerfunctions are distinctly reserved for physicians under program, requires 48 credit hours and 720 hours of ad-Texas law, and are considered medical acts. ditional clinical exposure with a licensed provider.7 page 2
Figure 1: DEgREEs REquiRED anD TiME To CoMplETion Undergraduate Entrance exam Post-graduate Residency TOTAL TIME FOR degree schooling and duration COMPLETIONFamily physician Standard 4-year Medical College 4 years, doctoral REQUIRED, 11 years(M.D. or D.O.) BA/BS Admissions Test program 3 years minimum (MCAT) (M.D. or D.O.)Nurse practitioner Standard 4-year Graduate Record 1.5 – 3 years, NONE 5.5 – 7 years BA/BS* Examination (GRE) master’s program & National Council (MSN) Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) required for MSN programsMEDiCal/pRofEssional sChool anD REsiDEnCy/posT-gRaDuaTE houRs foR CoMplETion Lecture hours Study hours Combined hours Residency hours TOTAL HOURS (pre-clinical years) (pre-clinical years) (clinical years)Family physician 2,700 3,000** 6,000 9,000 – 10,000 20,700 – 21,700Doctorate 800 – 1,600 1,500 – 2,250** 500 – 1,500 0 2,800 – 5,350of Nursing PracticeDifference between 1,100 – 1,900 750 – 1,500 4,500 – 5,500 9,000 – 10,000 15,350 – 18,900FP and NP hours of more for FPs more for FPs more for FPs more for FPs more for FPsprofessional training * While a standard 4-year degree, preferably a BSN, is recommended, alternate pathways exist for an RN without a bachelor’s degree to enter some master’s programs. ** Estimate based on 750 hours of study dedicated by a student per year.Sources: Vanderbilt University Family Nurse Practitioner Program information, http://www.nursing.vanderbilt.edu/msn/fnp_plan.html, and the Vanderbilt University Schoolof Nursing Handbook 2009-2010, http://www.nursing.vanderbilt.edu/current/handbook.pdf.American Academy of Family Physicians, Primary Health Care Professionals: A Comparison, http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/media/kits/fp-np.html. During their education, nurse practitioners experi- for practice and suggests several areas where NP edu- ence between 500 and 1,500 hours of clinical training. cational programs need to be strengthened.”9 At the completion of medical school and residency training, a family physician has experienced between Geographic Distribution and Primary 15,000 and 16,000 clinical hours.8 (Figures 1, 2) Care Productivity of Nurse Practitioners A 2007 study published in the American Journal Compared to Family Physicians of Nurse Practitioners reported that more than half Organizations hoping to win independent practice of practicing nurse practitioners responding to a sur- for NPs argue that with such an expansion in their vey believed they were “only somewhat or minimally scope of practice, NPs would be more likely than other prepared to practice” after completing either a mas- health care providers to practice in rural and under- ter’s or a certificate program. In the area of pharma- served regions, though no evidence exists to support cology, 46 percent reported they were not “generally the claim. In Texas, NPs can practice nursing in any or well prepared” for practice. “In no uncertain terms, location they choose with total independence. Should respondents indicated that they desired and needed they wish to practice medical acts, they must do so by more out of their clinical education, in terms of con- receiving standing delegation orders from a supervis- tent, clinical experience, and competency testing,” ing physician. Depending upon where they wish to the authors wrote. “Our results indicate that formal practice, requirements to satisfy the supervisory rules NP education is not preparing new NPs to feel ready vary. If the clinic is in an underserved region, the su- page 3
Figure 2: clINIcAl TRAININg houRs DuRINg A FAmIly PhysIcIAN’s eDucATIoN Medical school Medical school Family medicine residency Undergraduate degree years 1 & 2 years 3 & 4 3 years 4 years (pre-clinical years) (clinical years) 9,000 – 10,000 clinical hours 6,000 clinical hours Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Physicians are not allowed to diagnose, clINIcAl TRAININg houRs DuRINg A NuRse treat, or prescribe independently until they PRAcTITIoNeR’s eDucATIoN have logged 15,000 to 16,000 clinical hours. Master’s program Nurse practitioner organizations argue Undergraduate degree or Doctor of Nursing Practice that APNs are prepared to diagnose and 4 years 1.5 – 3 years 500 – 1,500 clinical hours prescribe independently after logging between 500 and 1,500 clinical hours.pervising physician must visit the clinic during busi- terns are no different than that of Texas, with vastness hours at least once every 10 business days for the expanses of HPSAs where patients have scant accesspurpose of observation, and must review at least 10 to primary care.11, 12, 13, 14, 15 (Figures 3 and 4)percent of the NPs’ patient charts. Even these meager Proponents of independent diagnosis and pre-safeguards can be waived by the Texas Medical Board scriptive authority for NPs frequently argue that NPsif petitioned. Yet the distribution of NPs across Texas can alleviate the lack of access to primary care servicesfollows the same pattern as that of physicians, with the many Texans experience. In reality, NPs across thevast majority choosing to practice in metropolitan and country are choosing to enter more lucrative subspe-suburban communities. cialties rather than remaining in primary care, a trend DSHS reports that in 2009, 5,745 NPs were in ac- prevalent among physicians as well. One recent studytive practice in Texas, though the report does not published in the journal Health Affairs estimates thatdistinguish how many of these practiced primary fewer than half of all nurse practitioners in the Unitedcare and how many practiced in subspecialties. The States practice in office-based primary care settings,number of NPs per 100,000 population was 25.1 in and reports that 42 percent of patient visits to nursemetropolitan non-border areas, but only 8.3 in rural practitioners and physician assistants in office-basedborder regions.10 practices are in the offices of specialists.16 States that have granted NPs the authority to in- Robert C. Bowman, M.D., professor of family med-dependently diagnose patients and prescribe phar- icine at the A.T. Still School of Osteopathic Medicinemaceuticals for treatment have not experienced in Arizona and noted expert on the nation’s physiciansignificant migrations of NPs into underserved re- workforce, reports that since 2004, the number ofgions. The American Medical Association has con- nurse practitioners entering primary care has droppedducted extensive geographic distribution studies by 40 percent. To measure the productivity of variousin all 50 states, concluding that NPs and physicians health care providers over their careers, Bowman de-tend to distribute in the same patterns, regardless signed a formula to calculate what he calls the standardof the states’ levels of supervisory safeguards on the primary care year. Using this measurement, Bowmanpractice of medicine by NPs. Evidence of these simi- found that family physicians deliver 29.3 standard pri-lar practice patterns is demonstrated in AMA geo- mary care years over an expected 35-year career, whilegraphic distribution maps in Figure 4. Utah, Oregon, nurse practitioners deliver only three standard prima-Idaho, and Arizona are four states that allow NPs to ry care years. According to Bowman, it would take al-diagnose and prescribe without ever collaborating most 10 nurse practitioners to equal the primary carewith physicians, and their practice distribution pat- productivity of one family physician.17 page 4
Figure 3: geogRAPhIc DIsTRIbuTIoN oF PRImARy cARe PhysIcIANs comPAReD To ADvANceD PRAcTIce RegIsTeReD NuRses IN TexAs The location of one or more actively practicing primary care physicians (n = 14,837) The location of one or more actively practicing advanced practice registered nurses (n = 6,560) Full Health Profes- sional Shortage Area county Partial Health Profes- sional Shortage Area SOURCE: American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, and the Texas Board of Nursing. “Texas Primary Care Physician to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Distribution Comparison.” National Center for the Analysis of Healthcare Data. 2008.A Lack of Credible Research Comparing Care The Fallacy of Possible Cost SavingsDelivered by NPs to Physicians Delivered by NPs Supporters of expanding scope of practice for nurse Proponents of independent practice for NPs also ar-practitioners quote studies that suggest a higher level of gue that such a policy change would result in reducedpatient satisfaction and no difference in outcomes when health spending, presumably based on the knowledgecomparing primary care services delivered by NPs to that NPs earn less than physicians. The Cochrane re-those of family physicians. In 2004, the Cochrane Review view suggests that this differential may be offset by in-analyzed this literature, screening 4,253 articles, and find- creased utilization of services and referrals by NPs.19ing 25 that related to 16 studies that met their inclusion This assertion was confirmed in a study by thecriteria. While the authors concluded the review sug- American College of Physicians that compared utili-gested that “appropriately trained” nurses could produce zation rates among physicians, residents, and nurseas high of quality of care as primary care physicians, “this practitioners in the journal Effective Clinical Prac-conclusion should be viewed with caution given that tice. Researchers showed that utilization of medicalonly one study was powered to assess equivalence of services was higher for patients assigned to nursecare, many studies had methodological limitations, and practitioners than for patients assigned to medicalpatient follow-up was generally 12 months or less.”18 residents in 14 of 17 utilization measures, and higher Because the phenomenon of states granting in 10 of 17 measures when compared with patientsAPRNs independent practice is relatively young, these assigned to attending physicians. The patient groupstudies measure the work of NPs who have practiced assigned to nurse practitioners in the study expe-for some amount of time in collaboration with physi- rienced 13 more hospitalizations annually for eachcians. There simply are no studies that measure the 100 patients and 108 more specialty visits per yearquality of care provided by NPs who never learn from per 100 patients than the patient cohort receivingor work with physicians. care from physicians.20 page 5
Figure 4: geogRAPhIc DIsTRIbuTIoN oF PRImARy cARe PhysIcIANs comPAReD To ADvANceD PRAcTIce RegIsTeReD NuRses IN IDAho, oRegoN, ARIzoNA, AND uTAh The location of one or more actively practicing primary care physicians The location of one or more actively practicing advanced Portland practice registered nurses Full HPSA county Partial HPSABoise Salt Lake City Phoenix Tucson SOURCES: American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, and the Idaho Board of Nursing. “Idaho Primary Care Physician to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Distribution Comparison.” AMA, AOA, and the Oregon State Board of Nursing. “Oregon Primary Care Physician to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Distribution Comparison.” AMA, AOA, and the Arizona State Board of Nursing. “Arizona Primary Care Physician to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Distribution Comparison.” AMA, AOA, and Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. “Utah Primary Care Physician to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Distribution Comparison.” National Center for the Analysis of Healthcare Data. 2008. All maps courtesy of the American Medical Association. page 6
Policy Considerations In deciding whether to allow NPs to practice In other words, isn’t some level of health care bet-medicine without medical degrees, or the knowledge ter than none at all? We believe short-term solutionsand skills acquired over thousands of hours spent in will harbor long-term consequences. For instance, ifresidency training, legislators should consider the fewer physicians practice primary care, leaving thosefollowing policy questions. valuable services to NPs, who will provide general surgery and other complex procedures in the small1. Does the Texas Board of Nursing have the capac- safety net hospitals providing care to rural commu- ity and the expertise to regulate the practice nities? Today, those hospitals depend on family phy- of medicine by NPs? Is the Nurse Practice Act sicians to perform such services. The answer to the a sufficient statutory document to contain the scope-of-practice question therefore must encom- regulation of medical practice by nurse prac- pass a distinct and deliberate vision for creating a titioners? If granted the authority to practice better landscape for primary care delivery for Texas. medicine, should nurse practitioners do so under The American Academy of Family Physicians the regulatory aegis of the Medical Practice Act, may have described this vision best in a January 2011 and should they receive licensure and oversight letter to the Institutes of Medicine and the Robert through the Texas Medical Board? Wood Johnson Foundation: “Today, optimal care is best provided in a team-based setting with different2. In the interest of safety and quality, should the health care professionals working together. There- state set a minimum standard of education and fore, the goal should be to develop collaborative, training to receive an APRN degree and license? team-based models that allow every member of the Today, a medical school graduate cannot receive team to practice to the full level of his or her training a license to practice medicine independently. He while recognizing important differences among team or she must complete residency training before members in background and skills.” being granted a license to practice independently. While APRNs are trained to emphasize health However, newly licensed NPs have only complet- promotion, patient education, and disease preven- ed about the same number of years of education tion, they lack the broader and deeper expertise as a third-year medical student, and many would needed to recognize cases in which multiple symp- argue that the education obtained during those toms suggest more serious conditions. The primary years is far from comparable. care physician is expertly trained to provide complex differential diagnosis, develop a treatment plan that3. If the Legislature grants NPs the authority to prac- addresses multiple organ systems, and order and in- tice medicine independently and without achiev- terpret tests within the context of the patient’s over- ing the standard of training, examination, and all health condition. licensure currently required to do so, what will APRNs are a vital part of Texas’ health care work- become of the state’s future supply of primary care force. As part of a team dedicated to improving the physicians? Put bluntly, why would anyone choose health of our citizens, nurse practitioners collaborate to enter medical school after earning a bachelor’s with physicians to increase access to well-coordinat- degree, to work 80-hour weeks for little pay for ed medical care in communities across the state. It is three years in a primary care residency, to incur all no secret that Texas suffers from a shortage of pri- of the educational debt required to achieve such mary care physicians, and that we must find ways to a high level of education, all while delaying their increase the number of physicians, nurse practitio- optimum earning potential for seven or more ners, and registered nurses practicing primary care years when all they have to do to practice medi- to meet that need. But granting nurse practitioners cine is become an NP? If the state elects to grant the authority to diagnose, treat, and prescribe with- the privilege and responsibility of medical practice out any physician collaboration is not the solution to to people other than physicians, what damage will Texas’ primary care workforce shortage. be done to what is already a depleted primary care Rather, the Legislature should continue to sup- physician workforce? port the numerous programs past Legislatures initi- ated to encourage our best and brightest to become As Texas grapples with the implications of inad- primary care physicians, and to increase integrationequate access to primary care in some parts of the and coordination of our health care delivery systemstate, it is easy to consider whether lawmakers should so that every Texan has a primary care medical home.agree to settle for something rather than nothing. That is the right answer for Texas. page 7
eNDNoTes: 12. American Medical Association, American Osteo-1. “Supply Trends Among Licensed Health Profes- pathic Association, and the Oregon State Board sions, Texas, 1980 – 2009, Fourth Edition.” Texas of Nursing. “Oregon Primary Care Physician to Department of State Health Services Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Distribution Professions Resource Center. Accessed Feb. Comparison.” National Center for the Analysis of 11, 2011. <http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/CHS/ Healthcare Data. 2008. HPRC/09trends.pdf> 13. American Medical Association, American2. Baicker, Katherine and Chandra, Amitabh. Osteopathic Association, and the Idaho Board “Medicare Spending, the Physician Workforce, of Nursing. “Idaho Primary Care Physician to and Beneficiaries’ Quality of Care.” Health Affairs Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Distribution Web exclusive w4.184 (7 April 2004): 184-197. Comparison.” National Center for the Analysis of Healthcare Data. 2008.3. Starfield, Barbara, et al. “The Effects of Special- ist Supply on Populations’ Health: Assessing the 14. American Medical Association, American Osteo- Evidence.” Health Affairs Web exclusive w5.97 (15 pathic Association, and the Arizona State Board March 2005): 97-107. of Nursing. “Arizona Primary Care Physician to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Distribution4. Beal, Anne C, et al. “Closing the Divide: How Comparison.” National Center for the Analysis of Medical Homes Promote Equity in Health Care: Healthcare Data. 2008. Results From the Commonwealth Fund 2006 Health Care Quality Survey.” The Common- 15. American Medical Association, American wealth Fund. 2007. Osteopathic Association, and the Texas Board of Nursing. “Texas Primary Care Physician to5. Kravet, Steven J, et al. “Health Care Utilization Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Distribution and the Proportion of Primary Care Physicians.” Comparison.” National Center for the Analysis of American Journal of Medicine 121.2 (2008): 142-148. Healthcare Data. 2008.6. American Nurses Credentialing Center. Accredi- 16. Colwill, Jack M; Cultice, James M; and Kruse, tation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification. Robin L. “Will Generalist Physician Supply Meet Accessed Feb. 11, 2011. <http://www.nursecreden- Demands of an Increasing and Aging Popula- tialing.org/certification.aspx#specialty> tion?” Health Affairs, 27, no. 3. 2008: w232-w241.7. The Univeristy of Texas at Austin School of 17. Bowman, Robert C. “Measuring primary care: Nursing. Accessed Feb. 11, 2011. <http://www. The standard primary care year.” Rural Remote utexas.edu/nursing/html/prospective/programs_ Health. 2008 Jul-Sep;8(3):1009. graduate.html> 18. Laurant, Miranda et al. “Substitution of Doctors8. “Education and Training: Family Physicians and by Nurses in Primary Care.” Cochrane Database Nurse Practitioners.” Greg Martin. American of Systematic Reviews. 2004, Issue 4. Art. No.: Academy of Family Physicians. Accessed Feb. 11, CD001271. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001271. 2011. < http://www.aafp.org/online/etc/medialib/ pub2. aafp_org/documents/press/nurse-practicioners/ nurse-practicioners-training.Par.0001.File.tmp/ 19. Ibid. NP-Kit-FP-NP-UPDATED.pdf> 20. Hemani, Alnoor, et al. “A comparison of resource9. Hart, Ann Marie, and Macnee, Carol L. “How utilization in nurse practitioners and physi- well are nurse practitioners prepared for practice: cians.” Efficient Clinical Practice. 1999 Nov-Dec; results of a 2004 questionnaire study.” Journal of 2(6):258-265. the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. 2007, Vol. 19, No. 1, p. 37. Marie-Elizabeth Ramas, M.D., is a third-year resident10. Ibid. 1. at the Conroe Family Medicine Residency Program in Conroe, Texas. As a National Health Service Corps11. American Medical Association, American Osteo- scholar, she is dedicated to serving the underserved. pathic Association, and Utah Division of Occupa- tional and Professional Licensing. “Utah Primary The Texas Academy of Family Physicians Foundation Care Physician to Advanced Practice Registered supports educational and scientific initiatives for the Nurse Distribution Comparison.” National Cen- specialty of family medicine to improve the health of all ter for the Analysis of Healthcare Data. 2008. Americans. Visit www.tafp.org/foundation. page 8
Primary Care Coalition Issue Brief: COLLABORATION BETWEEN PHYSICIANS AND NURSES WORKS Primary Care Coalition | 401 W 15th Street, Ste. 682, Austin, TX 78701 | (512) 370-1516 Compare the Education Gaps Between Primary Care Physicians and Nurse PractitionersWhile nurse practitioners are trained to emphasize health promotion, patient education, and diseaseprevention, they lack the broader and deeper expertise needed to recognize cases in which multiple symptomssuggest more serious conditions. The primary care physician is trained to provide complex differentialdiagnosis, develop a treatment plan that addresses multiple organ systems, and order and interpret tests withinthe context of the patient’s overall health condition.This expertise is earned through the deep, rigorous study of medical science in the classroom and the thousandsof hours of clinical study in the exam room that medical students and residents must complete before beingallowed to practice medicine independently.Because primary care physicians throughout the United States follow the same highly structured educationalpath, complete the same coursework, and pass the same licensure examination, you know what you’re gettingwith a physician. There is no such standard to achieve nurse practitioner certification, as their educationalrequirements vary from program to program and from state to state. Degrees requireD anD Time To CompleTion Undergraduate Entrance exam Post-graduate Residency TOTAL TIME FOR degree schooling and duration COMPLETION Family physician Standard 4-year Medical College 4 years, doctoral REQUIRED, 11 years (M.D. or D.O.) BA/BS Admissions Test program 3 years minimum (MCAT) (M.D. or D.O.) Nurse practitioner Standard 4-year Graduate Record 1.5 – 3 years, NONE 5.5 – 7 years BA/BS* Examination (GRE) master’s program & National Council (MSN) Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) required for MSN programs meDiCal/professional sChool anD resiDenCy/posT-graDuaTe hours for CompleTion Lecture hours Study hours Combined hours Residency hours TOTAL HOURS (pre-clinical years) (pre-clinical years) (clinical years) Family physician 2,700 3,000** 6,000 9,000 – 10,000 20,700 – 21,700 Doctorate 800 – 1,600 1,500 – 2,250** 500 – 1,500 0 2,800 – 5,350 of Nursing Practice Difference between 1,100 – 1,900 750 – 1,500 4,500 – 5,500 9,000 – 10,000 15,350 – 18,900 FP and NP hours of more for FPs more for FPs more for FPs more for FPs more for fps professional training * While a standard 4-year degree, preferably a BSN, is recommended, alternate pathways exist for an RN without a bachelor’s degree to enter some master’s programs. ** Estimate based on 750 hours of study dedicated by a student per year. Sources: Vanderbilt University Family Nurse Practitioner Program information, http://www.nursing.vanderbilt.edu/msn/fnp_plan.html, and the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Handbook 2009-2010, http://www.nursing.vanderbilt.edu/current/handbook.pdf. American Academy of Family Physicians, Primary Health Care Professionals: A Comparison, http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/media/kits/fp-np.html. • over •
CliniCal Training hours During a family physiCian’s eDuCaTion Medical school Medical school Family medicine residency Undergraduate degree years 1 & 2 years 3 & 4 3 years 4 years (pre-clinical years) (clinical years) 9,000 – 10,000 clinical hours 6,000 clinical hours Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Physicians are not allowed to CliniCal Training hours During diagnose, treat, or prescribe a nurse praCTiTioner’s eDuCaTion independently until they have logged 15,000 to 16,000 clinical hours. Master’s program Undergraduate degree or Doctor of Nursing Practice 4 years 1.5 – 3 years Nurse practitioner organizations argue 500 – 1,500 clinical hours that APNs are prepared to diagnose and prescribe independently after logging between 500 and 1,500 clinical hours.Nurse practitioners can achieve certification by completing an associate’s degree program or nursing diplomaprogram, and go directly into a master’s degree program—some of which can be completed online—or they cancomplete their Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. At the point of certification, a new nurse practitioner hasacquired between 500 and 1,500 hours of clinical training, fewer than a third-year medical student. A new familyphysician has acquired more than 15,000 hours of clinical training. • A 2004 survey of practicing nurse practitioners published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners reported that in the area of pharmacology, 46% reported they were not “generally or well prepared.”1 • From the study: “In no uncertain terms, respondents indicated that they desired and needed more out of their clinical education, in terms of content, clinical experience, and competency testing.”1 • Also from the study: “Our results indicate that formal NP education is not preparing new NPs to feel ready for practice and suggests several areas where NP educational programs need to be strengthened.”1The complex chemistry and powerful therapeutics of modern pharmaceuticals require substantial expertise tocarefully titrate dosages and account for the very real risks of toxicity, therapeutic failure, chemical dependency,adverse side effects from drug interactions, and simply wasting scarce health care resources through over- orunder-prescribing. Pharmacology and pharmacotherapy are closely integrated into every aspect of medical train-ing, providing an educational foundation that far exceeds the nominal exposure nurse practitioner programs offer. • A study on antibiotic prescribing published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2005 found that non- physician clinicians were more likely to prescribe antibiotics than were practicing physicians (26.3% and 16.2%, respectively) in outpatient settings.2 • Another study suggested that many nurse practitioners had not received enough education in microbiology, knowledge integral to effective treatment for bacterial, fungal, as well as viral disease.3 • A six-year study published in 2006 found that rural nurse practitioners were writing more prescriptions than their urban nurse practitioner counterparts, physicians, and physician assistants.41. Hart A and Macnee C. “How well are nurse practitioners prepared for practice: results of a 2004 questionnaire study.” Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. 2007, Vol. 19, No. 1, p. 37.2. Roumie C and Halasa N. “Differences in antibiotic prescribing among residents, physicians and non-physician clinicians.” American Journal of Medicine. June 2005, Vol. 118, No. 6, pp. 641-648.3. Sym D et al. “Characteristics of nurse practitioner curricula in the United States related to antimicrobial prescribing and resistance.” Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. September 2007, Vol. 19, No. 9, pp. 477-485.4. Cipher D and Hooker R. “Prescribing trends by nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the United States.” Journal of the Amercian Academy of Nurce Practitioners. June 2006, Vol. 18, No. 6, p.6.The Primary Care Coalition is a partnership comprised of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, the Texas Pediatric Society,and the Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians.
Primary Care Coalition Issue Brief: COLLABORATION BETWEEN PHYSICIANS AND NURSES WORKS Primary Care Coalition | 401 W 15th Street, Ste. 682, Austin, TX 78701 | (512) 370-1516Primary Care Physicians Are the Most Likely Health CareProfessionals to Practice in Rural and Underserved AreasAccording to the Robert Graham Center, people in non-metropolitan areas, especially in rural areas, depend onfamily physicians more than any other specialty. Despite claims by nurse practitioners that they will practicein rural and underserved communities if granted the ability to diagnose and prescribe independently, the datasuggest otherwise. • Practice-mapping research conducted by the American Medical Association shows that patterns in practice locations for nurse practitioners in states with independent practice are no different from those in states that require collaboration between nurse practitioners and physicians. • If granted independent practice, nurse practitioners would be practicing in the same economic environment as family physicians, and the factors that make opening and maintaining a rural medical practice will discourage nurse practitioners as well.GeoGraphic DistributioN of The location of one or more actively practicing primary care physicians (n = 14,837)primary care physiciaNs aNDNurse practitioNers iN texas The location of one or more actively practicing advanced practice nurses (n = 6,560)In Texas in 2009, the ratio of Full Health Professional Shortage Area countyprimary care physicians per Partial Health Professional Shortage Area100,000 people in countiesdesignated as Health Profes-sional Shortage Areas was32.8, while the ratio of nursepractitioners per 100,000people in those same countieswas 10.4.Number of Nurse practitioNers per 100,000populatioN iN texas iN 2009Metropolitan non-border areas: 25.1Metropolitan border areas: 17.0Non-metropolitan non-border areas: 15.5Non-metropolitan border areas: 8.3 • over •
Nurse Practitioners Will Not Be More Likely to Serve Rural and Border Areas Than Primary Care Physicians if Granted Independent Practice Sixteen states allow nurse practitioners to diagnose and prescribe without any physician collabo- ration. Four of those that feature metropolitan areas and large, rural areas like Texas are Idaho, Oregon, Arizona, and Utah. As is evident by the AMA practice distribution maps below, granting independent practice to nurse practitioners does not change their tendency to practice in metro- politan and suburban communities. According to a 2007 survey performed by Advance for Nurse Practitioners, of 6,162 respondents, 77% reported that they practiced in cities or suburbs, while only 23% practiced in a rural setting. The location of one or more actively practicing primary care physicians Portland The location of one or more actively practicing advanced practice nurses Full HPSA county Partial HPSABoise Salt Lake City Phoenix Tucson The Primary Care Coalition is a partnership comprised of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, the Texas Pediatric Society, and the Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians.
Primary Care Coalition Issue Brief: COLLABORATION BETWEEN PHYSICIANS AND NURSES WORKS Collaboration Between Physicians and Nurse Practitioners Contains Health Care Costs Bringing down the cost of care must be a major goal of any change in health care policy in Texas. The integrated, well-coordinated care provided in a physician-led, patient-centered medical home has proven time and again to result in healthier populations while saving money. The patient-centered medical home depends on the skills, education, and expertise of a team of health care providers, including nurse practitioners, caring for patients under the medical direction of primary care physicians to succeed. Contrary to the claims of nurse practitioner organizations, independent practice by nurse practitioners would not lead to more efficient or cost-effective care; in fact, studies show the opposite would be the likely outcome. Because they lack the training and medical education of physicians, nurse practitioners tend to refer patients to specialists and order expensive diagnostic tests at a higher rate when they are not working with physicians. A comparison of utilization rates among physicians, medical residents, and nurse practitioners in the same setting showed that: • Utilization of medical services was higher for patients assigned to nurse practitioners than for patients assigned to residents in 14 of 17 utilization measures, and higher in 10 of 17 measures when compared with patients assigned to attending physicians.1 • There was a 41% increased hospitalization rate in the nurse practitioner group, or 13 more hospital admissions per 100 patients per year than the group receiving care from physicians.1 • There was a 25% increase in specialty visits in the nurse practitioner group, or 108 more visits per 100 patients per year than the group receiving care from physicians.1 The researchers stated that the findings suggest that increased use of nurse practitioners as primary care providers may lead to increased ordering of expensive diagnostic tests and higher rates of specialty visits and hospital admissions for patients assigned to nurse practitioners. • From the study: “The higher number of inpatient and specialty care resources utilized by patients assigned to a nurse practitioner suggests that they may indeed have more difficulty with managing patients on their own (even with physician supervision) and may rely more on other services than physicians practicing in the same setting.”1 1. Hemani A, Rastegar DA, Hill C, et al. “A comparison of resource utilization in nurse practitioners and physicians.” Eff Clin Pract. 1999 Nov-Dec; 2(6):258-265. • over •
To Improve Access to High-quality, Cost-efficient Health Care, Invest in Team-based, Integrated Care Led by Primary Care Physicians When patient care is well-coordinated, as it is when provided in a patient-centered medical home led by a primary care physician, it has proven to be of better quality and of lower cost. This model features a team-based approach that relies on the appropriate use of nurse practitioners and other health care providers in a collaborative practice designed to offer coordinated, efficient, and effective health care. Consider the evidence represented by these results from across the country. • Washington-based Group Health Cooperative implemented the patient-centered medical home in 2009 and after one year, ER visits were reduced by 29% and ambulatory sensitive care admissions were down by 11%.1 • Community Care of North Carolina has experienced a 40% decrease in hospitalizations for asthma and a 16% lower ER visit rate after implementing the primary care medical home model for Medicaid and SCHIP beneficiaries. Total savings in those programs are $135 million for TANF populations and $400 million for the aged, blind, and disabled population.2, 3 • A leader in the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective health care, the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania has shown a 14% reduction in total hospital admissions relative to controls, and a 9% reduction in total medical costs after only 24 months of operation under the PCMH model.4 • Intermountain Healthcare Medical Group began implementing a PCMH model in 2001. The group has experienced a 10% relative reduction in total hospitalizations, with an even greater reduction among patients with complex chronic illnesses. The net reduction in total costs was $640 per patient per year, and $1,650 per year for each of the highest-risk patients.5 • The list of successes for communities implementing the physician-led, patient-centered primary care medical home continues to grow. For more information, consult the Patient-centered Primary Care Collaborative at www.pcpcc.net. Advanced practice nurses are a vital part of Texas’ health care workforce. As part of a team dedicated to improving the health of our citizens, nurse practitioners collaborate with physicians to increase access to well-coordinated medical care in communities across the state. But allowing nurse practitioners to diagnose, treat, and prescribe without any physician collaboration will only serve to further fragment the chaotic and poorly coordinated health care delivery system Texans encounter. Nurse practitioners and physicians have the same goal: to keep Texans healthy and productive, and to ensure that when they need it, patients have access to safe, high-quality medical care. Nurses and physicians provide the highest quality health care when they work together for the well-being of their patients. They are a team, striving each day for the better health of Texans. This team should be supported and kept together by state policies that have the best interests of the patient in mind.1. Reid R, Fishman P, Yu O, et al. “A patient-centered medical home demonstration: a prospective, quasi-experimental, before and after evaluation.” American Journal of Managed Care, September 2009.2. BD Steiner et al, “Community Care of North Carolina: Improving care through community health networks.” Ann Fam Med 2008;6: 361-367.3. Mercer. “Executive Summary, 2008 Community Care of North Carolina Evaluation.” Available at http://www.communitycarenc.com/ PDFDocs/Mercer%20ABD%20Report%20SFY08.pdf.4. Geisinger Health System, presentation at White House roundtable on Advanced Models of Primary Care, August 10, 2009.5. Dorr DA, Wilcox AB, Brunker CP, et al. “The effect of technology-supported, multidisease care management on the mortality and hospitalization of seniors.” J Am Geriatr Soc. 2008;56(12):2195-202. Findings updated for presentation at White House roundtable on Advanced Models of Primary Care, August 10, 2009.These and other studies demonstrating the benefits and successes of the patient-centered medical home can be found in a study entitled, “The Outcomes of Implementing Patient-Centered Medical Home Interventions: A Review of the Evidence on Quality, Access and Costs from Recent Prospective Evaluation Studies,” published August 2009 by Kevin Grumbach, M.D., Thomas Bodenheimer, M.D., M.P.H., and Paul Grundy, M.D., M.P.H. It can be found online at http://www.pcpcc.net/content/pcmh-outcome-evidence-quality.The Primary Care Coalition is a partnership comprised of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, the Texas Pediatric Society,and the Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians.