Friday, June 09, 2006

Use of NPs and PAs in Hospitals

"The demand for doctors is growing and the supply isn't keeping up. Hospitals
have found a solution to the problem by hiring nurse practitioners and physician
assistants -- midlevel practitioners who serve to augment physicians in
practices and hospitals", says Jerry Siebenmark. "

"While most NPs and PAs work as employees of private practice physicians, hospital executives and health care administrators say they expect their use within hospitals to continue to increase. That's because hospitals will be dealing with a growing population of older and sicker patients at the same time shortages of physicians across the country emerge."

Dr. Joe Davison, a Wichita family practitioner and president of the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians, says midlevel practitioners are an effective extension of the physician.
Hospitals will rely more and more on PAs and NAs as the country wrestles with a physician shortage that, according to the Council on Graduate Medical Education, will peak by 2020, with a deficit of 96,000 physicians. "They absolutely are and they will play a key role in all types of health
care, city and rural," Davison says. But, he says, they are no substitute for physicians who have more training and education. "This job of taking care of people with illness is so difficult, you cannot get enough training, even doctors," Davison says. "It's just such a large body of information, it's so unpredictable and there are so many variables. There has to be a team approach, an understanding of duties and responsibilities."

NPs and PAs are being used in hospital settings to cover the shortage of medical providers. In my facility the ER Fast track is run by NPs who collaborate with the MD working in the regular ER at the time. This helps keep the ER from being overrun by common everyday complaints and let's the truly emergent cases be seen by the physicians much faster. This is a win-win situation for everybody with less waiting time in the waiting rooms and less stress on the regular ER staff.
The concept of a hospitalist NP will be a new one in my facility but I hope it will be implemented soon. More and more of the physicians that I work with are recognizing the merits of a collaborating NP on board both in the office and the hospital.

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