By Donna Novak, RN, DNP, CRNP
Director and Nurse Executive, Gannett Healthcare Group
The baby boom rapidly is becoming an elder boom, and this year Nurse.com is focusing on how this burgeoning population will affect nursing and the healthcare system in the coming years.
About 10,000 baby boomers are reaching age 65 every day in the U.S. The majority of this population requires ongoing primary care services to help manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes, obesity or hypertension. In addition, because the Affordable Care Act is expanding the number of people with medical insurance, the number of patients seeking primary care will significantly challenge our healthcare system workforce.
Studies have shown nurse practitioners are providing high quality primary care across the country — in nurse-managed centers, hospitals, clinics and private practices. In the 2007 article “Nurse Practitioners Reporting for Duty,” Tine Hansen-Turton, CEO of the National Nursing Centers Consortium, argued expanded access to nurse practitioner care is a timely strategy, but it often is hindered by “arbitrary practice, reimbursement and regulatory barriers.” This argument still is alive and well today.
NPs are not sitting back and waiting for practice barriers to go away; they are joining together in their professional organizations such as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners to promote change. In April, nurse practitioner Deborah Wachtel, RN, ANP, MSN, MPH, the AANP state representative from Vermont, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging. Wachtel discussed the shortage of primary care physicians, and urged the committee to eliminate restrictions to NPs having full practice authority, citing her home state as a model where NPs are allowed to practice to the full scope of their training and education.
Kudos to all the advanced practice nurses who are dedicated to providing care to underserved populations and who strongly advocate for accessible, high quality healthcare for all. We hope you will look to Nurse.com as a resource that supports and values APNs and keeps you up to date about the ways your profession evolves to meet society’s ever-changing healthcare needs.