The aging U.S. population has given rise to an increasing need for the services of healthcare professionals in the country. This increasing need has seen the demand for nurses rise substantially in recent years. And while physicians continue to be the most highly qualified medical professionals in the country, more healthcare facilities are using the services of nurse practitioners to supplement the work done by their doctors. This has been partly due to the fact that nurse practitioners are able to work in both primary care settings and clinical settings.
According to Dr. Conrad Clemens, associate dean for graduate medical education program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, physicians have historically been very hesitant to share their job functions with nurse practitioners.
The average doctor has about four times more training than the average nurse practitioner. But physicians are learning to trust their nurse practitioner colleagues in the medical field setting, a trend which is evidenced by the fact that many nurse practitioners have responsibilities, including diagnosing disease and prescribing medications, in many states around the country.
One of the many benefits of being seen by a nurse practitioner as opposed to a physician is that nurse practitioners tend to spend more time with their patients as a result of having less pressure to see a certain number of patients within a certain time period. Patients have long complained that physicians, on the other hand, often spend too little time with them and seem to rush to see as many patients as possible within the workday.
Another benefit of being seen by a nurse practitioner is the fact that they are generally more available than their physician colleagues. While it may take a week or more to get an appointment with a physician, nurse practitioners are likely to be available far sooner.