Why Nurse Practitioners Are Good Alternatives to Primary Care Physicians
- Convenient Health Care
- More Assistance with Chronic Conditions
- Lower Number of Hospital Readmissions
- Shorter Waits on Appointments
- Faster Treatment in Emergency Rooms
With the high cost of healthcare and patients constantly looking for qualified and affordable health care providers, many patients are finding that nurse practitioners are a good alternative to primary care physicians. Nurse practitioners have to earn a master’s or doctoral degree after becoming RNs. Although this seems like a lot of education, physicians are required to have even more. While nurse practitioners don’t have as much education and training as physicians, nurse practitioners, depending on the state, can do many of the same things as physicians. Here are 5 reasons why nurse practitioners are a good alternative to primary care physicians.
1. Convenient Health Care
Although nurse practitioners often work in hospitals and physician’s clinics, they also work in some drugstores and walk-in clinics. If a patient becomes sick but knows it’s not something really serious, the patient can see the nurse practitioners and, in most cases, get medical care quickly. Nurse practitioners make it much easier and more convenient for patients to get help quickly, which makes them more eager to seek medical help. Many patients avoid getting medical help because they’re unsuccessful in getting appointments quickly. Consequently, they often end up becoming sicker and require more costly medical help.
2. More Assistance with Chronic Conditions
If a patient has a chronic condition, he or she can see a primary care physician for the original visit. Once a treatment plan has been developed, the patient can see the nurse practitioner for aftercare or simple visits like blood work, blood pressure readings or blood glucose tests. Many nurse practitioners specialize in a certain group of patients, such as women’s health, cancer patients or pediatrics, according to U.S. News & World Report. This works well for this group of patients because they’re able to get the additional help they need and often much quicker than if they were trying to get an appointment to see a specialist.
3. Lower Number of Hospital Readmissions
Patients who see nurse practitioners typically have a lower risk of being readmitted to the hospital. Health studies have shown that patients who are happy with their healthcare providers are linked to lower readmissions, and patients are typically happier with nurse practitioners because they receive more attention, quicker service and more of the practitioners time. Leukemia patients seeing nurse practitioners also had fewer readmissions than those seen by physicians in training. The same is said for heart surgery patients when seen by nurse practitioners who made home visits.
4. Shorter Waits on Appointments
Physicians and specialists have a heavy workload that often has them booked up for weeks in advance. It’s not unusual for a patient to have to wait for 2 to 3 weeks to see a specialist, such as a dermatologist, cardiologist, orthopedic surgeon or gynecologist, among others. When physicians have nurse practitioners working with them in their offices, the nurse practitioner can often see the patient when the physician cannot.
5. Faster Treatment in Emergency Rooms
It’s not unusual for a patient to go to an emergency room and have to wait for hours before they actually see a doctor. In large hospitals in big cities, it can be even longer. This often results in patients leaving the facility in frustration without seeing a doctor if it’s not a life-threatening situation. When there are nurse practitioners on duty, the patients that are not really serious can see the practitioner, allowing more time for the physician to see more patients.
Primary care physicians have about 23,000 hours of education and training to the nurse practitioner’s 3,000 hours, according to Consumer Reports. Despite these figures, more and more patients are choosing to see nurse practitioners for their healthcare needs. With the excellent job growth expected for nurse practitioners, patients may find an abundance of nurse practitioners to serve their health needs.