Demand for affordable, high-quality primary care is rising rapidly, contributing to dramatic shifts in the American healthcare system. Factors including an aging population, the prevalence of chronic illnesses and the necessity for healthcare access in marginalized places have all contributed to this rising need. Fortunately, there is a group of highly skilled healthcare professionals stepping up to meet this challenge: advanced practice nurses (APNs).
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Licensed registered nurses (RNs) with additional education and clinical experience are known as advanced practice nurses (APNs) and are considered experts in their field of nursing practice. An RN who has completed a post masters AGPCNP program is an example of an “advanced nurse practitioner.” AGACNPs, or acute care adult-gerontology nurse practitioners, are RNs who specialize in treating adults and elderly patients who are dealing with serious or life-threatening illnesses.
Meeting the Growing Demand for Primary Care
The U.S. healthcare system’s primary care provider deficit has been an issue for years. Delays in diagnosis and improper treatment for chronic diseases result from millions of Americans’ inability to get timely and thorough primary care services. Nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), certified nurse midwives (CNMs) and NPs specializing in adult-gerontology acute care are all essential to finding solutions to this problem.
In addition to diagnosing and treating common ailments, these APRNs may also do physical examinations and prescribe medicine because of their extensive education, training and certification in various primary care specialties. They have the clinical expertise necessary to fill the role of primary care physician, especially in underserved and rural regions where the need is greatest.
Expanding Roles and Responsibilities
Over time, APRNs’ responsibilities in primary care have expanded greatly. They are expanding their responsibilities beyond the provision of primary healthcare to include more intricate and specialized activities. Chronic illness management, preventative care and even mental health services are examples of what nurse practitioners are increasingly tasked with offering.
The adoption of collaborative practice agreements by several states has been a major change, making it possible for nurse practitioners to operate independently or in tandem with doctors. Because of this leeway, APRNs can better meet their communities’ diverse healthcare demands.
Improving Access to Healthcare Services
Access to healthcare is greatly enhanced thanks to the efforts of advanced practice nurses. Primary care providers like these are especially needed in underserved communities, such as those serviced by community health centers, rural clinics and other settings. Patient wait times are cut down and unnecessary hospitalizations are avoided because of this convenience.
In addition, APRNs have a reputation for putting their patients first. They put the time to hear their patients out, explain their diseases clearly and include them in treatment decisions wherever possible. Better health results are achieved with an improved patient experience using this method.
Innovation Healthcare Technologies
Advanced nurse practitioners have been at the forefront of a new digital revolution in the health sector: Telehealth solutions. These solutions refer to innovative technologies like teleconferencing applications that enable the remote delivery of healthcare services. APNs are able to offer telehealth services, including remote monitoring of chronic diseases, remote provision of professional advice and delivery of timely consultations.
In addition to offering telehealth services, many APNs are also starting their clinics. The primary focus of APNs at these clinics is to offer comprehensive primary care to patients in underprivileged communities. Their efforts have a major influence on healthcare delivery because they remove obstacles to treatment by providing their services in community settings.
Challenges and Future Prospects
Many advanced practice nurses still face obstacles in achieving acceptance and full recognition in the healthcare system despite the many advantages they bring. Some of the factors hindering APNs from practicing to the full extent of their training and education include regulatory barriers, scope of practice restrictions and resistance from some physician groups.
Despite these challenges, primary care advanced practice nurses have a bright future. As the healthcare system grows, the role of advanced practice nurses is expected to grow in importance. It is only a matter of time before their authority to diagnose, treat and prescribe medicine for patients will be enhanced due to legislative developments in several states.
The Bottom Line
The increasing number of advanced nurse practitioners is a major step forward in closing the primary care gap in the United States. APNs are helping millions of Americans have better access to and experience with primary care by taking on new responsibilities and increasing their reach. There is little doubt that APNs will remain crucial in the future as the government and healthcare bodies strive to revolutionize primary care and provide access to quality medical services for everyone.