«Health Care Policy Analysis» - Free Essay Paper

Health Care Policy Analysis

Problem Identification

Nurse practitioners and primary care is a policy that is aimed at allowing the nurse practitioners to provide a primary care. Over the past few years, there have been several rising concerns over the limited number of physicians working in the primary care sphere. The reason is that most of the physicians decide to become specialists after qualifying for practice due to the fact that specialists are not only better paid but also more respected within their professional circles. Considering that most states legally prevent their nurse practitioners from providing the primary care in the absence of a physician, the patients often have to wait longer or even go to other health care facilities to get the kind of treatment they need. Thus, clients cannot have access to the primary care easily even though a nurse practitioner is relatively well qualified for the task but only unable to implement her knowledge because of the state laws (Sarna, Bialous, Chan, Hollen & O'Connell, 2013). What is more, the prohibition imposed on the nurse practitioners also limits their capacity in helping a patient if a physician is either overwhelmed or simply unavailable.

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The population within the U.S. is steadily increasing at a rate that is significantly higher than the number of physicians (Manson, Gardner, Outlaw & O’Grady, 2016). Nowadays, it can be noted that a majority of the physicians want to become specialists in their chosen fields hence leaving the health care industry with very few primary care doctors. This growing shortage substantially impairs the situation regarding that the population is already rising faster than the medical professionals can be trained and licensed for practice. Legally, the only professionals allowed to provide the primary care are the nurse practitioners, physicians, and physician assistants (Eaton, 2012). However, the physician assistants are permitted to work with the primary care exceptionally in the presence of a qualified physician while the nurse practitioners may or may not be permitted to give the primary care depending on the state laws.

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The ability of a patient to receive the primary care determines their ability to get the proper treatment for whichever condition they are dealing with. To clarify, when patients feel unwell, doctors do not automatically understand what is ailing them. Otherwise, clients first need to be checked, diagnosed and, subsequently, referred to a specialist. The whole idea of the primary care is to resolve what the patient suffers from in order to establish the severity and the specific treatment that is needed. The increasing population and the dwindling number of the primary care physicians limit the accessibility to the medication people require (ANA, 2009b). Markedly, the longer the patients have to wait before being attended, the worse the state of their health can become causing a multitude of the possible complications that could be omitted assuming that the proper care was guaranteed opportunely (Betts, 2009). These are some of the reasons why the government should consider letting the nurse practitioners all over the country be occupied with the primary care and, consequently, reduce the shortage in the industry.

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This health policy will involve patients, nurse practitioners, and physicians. Notably, the process will particularly be oriented at the nurse practitioners and the patients. Physicians will also be affected considering that they will get nurse practitioners to assist them during their work. Eventually, physicians will be able to either specialize in a given field or continue providing the primary care alongside the nurse practitioners.

Issue Statement

Nurse practitioners should be allowed to provide primary care to patients alongside with the primary care physicians.

Policy Objectives

Primary care is a very important part of the health care delivery system and the ability of the patients to get the primary care may have a substantial impact on their health. The first goal of this policy is to increment the patients’ accessibility to the primary care. Hence, the policy also is expected to diminish the time that most patients have to spend before seeing a doctor and possibly getting referred to a specialist (Manson, Gardner, Outlaw & O’Grady, 2016). The objective is to save the lives of the patients by ensuring they receive the right kind of care soon enough. 

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Policy Alternatives

Assuming that such strategy is not implemented, it can be expected that the American public would continue experiencing an acute lack of the primary care givers within the health care sector. To explain, as more physicians select to specialize in the various fields because of the greater compensation and professional prestige, the patients will keep waiting in order to see a small number of the primary care doctors available (Center for Responsive Politics, 2014). The first option in this case would be to deal with the other factors that affect the waiting process within a hospital facility. Specifically, rather than concentrating on the ways of how to make the waiting time shorter, the health care sector can focus on ensuring that it is really comfortable for the clients to wait. Another variant would be to encourage the specialized doctors to work in the primary care whenever the primary care unit is overwhelmed. Actually, the fact that they have specialized in a certain field should not limit them from offering a qualitative primary care when they are required to. Lastly, the medical industry could consider raising the status and salary of the primary care doctors. Namely, professionals tend to choose a specialist status because of the money and the possible prestige and it is the factor leaving very few primary care doctors in the industry. In order to avert this problem the primary care doctor has to be awarded just as much prestige and compensation as their specialist counterparts (AACN, 2009a). All these alternatives are relatively complicated to realize but with a great will and dedication, they are able to entail very effective results.

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Evaluation Criteria

The main aim of this policy is to improve the accessibility to the primary care by increasing the number of medical personnel who can provide primary care within the country. Therefore, the evaluation criterion is the simplicity with which patients would be able to access the primary care. Shorter waiting hours for the patients would mean that there are more professionals to give the primary care.

The obligation to attend too many patients is something that will continue being a part of any health care provider’s job description considering that the population growth rate is much higher than the rate at which medical practitioners are trained and licensed for practice. This means that the industry should focus on maximizing of the available human capital by allowing the qualified nurse practitioners to provide primary care in order to facilitate the growing burden of the few physicians that are yet to specialize. Furthermore, there is an opportunity that there will not be any physicians in the industry taking into account that every young doctor aspires to become a specialist in one field or another. Nonetheless, other alternatives of this particular policy are yet to be investigated and realized. On the other hand, the nurse practitioners have all the necessary training and experience and the only barrier for them is the legislation that some states have decided to apply. It goes without saying that allowing the nurse practitioners to give the primary care would ensure that the patients would access fast and effective health care interventions while visiting any health care facility.

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