Monday, July 30, 2012

Repost: Let Us Be Heard

I started this blog, A Nurse Practitioner’s View, 3 years ago because there were very few health stories that even mentioned nurse practitioners as part of the health care landscape. Right before I started the blog, I would respond to other health policy articles published on the Web by writing comments to the websites – only to be subjected to baseless and factually incorrect statements. It was soon thereafter that I decided I would write my own perspective on health policy, trends, and news. I also felt it important from a credibility aspect to not blog anonymously but to put my name on it.
I recall those few early blog posts that I proudly wrote and would feverishly check my blog visitor stats to see if people were reading. Well, it was a bit slow going in the beginning with about 10 – 15 readers but as they say, “if you build it, they will come.” Today, the blog enjoys hundreds of visits a day, has a Facebook following, has enabled me to be “discovered” to blog at Online Nurse Practitioner Programs, and I have communicated with people across the country.
I hold a sense of satisfaction that today, nurse practitioners are readily referred to in articles as one of the possible solutions to the healthcare system (not that I attribute it solely to my blog of course) through the body of evidence and hard work that each nurse practitioner performs every day. We have also seen great advocacy efforts at the Federal and State level by our nurse practitioner organizations, and let us not forget the IOM landmark report,The Future of Nursing published in 2010.
While there is still opposition out there about the role nurse practitioners should perform (and I imagine this will always be the case in some way), we are part of that conversation. You can imagine my utter disappointment when I read yesterday’s New York Times front page article, “Doctor Shortage Likely To Worsen With Health Law” and the only mention of NPs was towards the end of the article:
“Dr. Smith said building more walk-in clinics, allowing nurses to provide more care and encouraging doctors to work in teams would all be part of the answer. “
Did you catch that? “Allowing nurses to provide more care.”  I assume that’s the part referring to nurse practitioners. Today, in 2012, I would think that when there is talk about the current and future state of health care, the conversation about health care would be more inclusive of the actual professions comprising the health care system.
Our health system simply cannot continue with the status quo and present the primary solution being “graduate more doctors.” New care models, health information technology enabling more efficient and cost-effective care, increased patient engagement, enhanced payment structure and yes, even the use of nurse practitioners must be the embedded in that conversation.
Now is the time for nurse practitioners to be heard. I invite every nurse practitioner, nurse practitioner student and patient partnered with a nurse practitioner to write to the NY Times to present a viable alternative to “graduate more doctors.” With over 160,000 nurse practitioners across the United States, now is not the time for silence, but is the time for all stakeholders to understand the solution that NPs offer (and will be even more so when out-dated and unnecessary practice barriers are removed).
I am writing and e-mailing ( my letter today to the NY Times to shine some nurse practitioner light on the gloom and doom scenario presented in the article on the future of health care providers. Please consider joining me in writing one too. Let us be heard.
This post was first published at Online Nurse Practitioner Programs