Nurse Practitioners Gain Independence in Their Own Practice

Diann Nelson-Houser of Gahanna, Ohio is part of a growing population of nurse practitioners who are opening up a private practice so as to serve a paricular community as a primary healthcare provider. When asked about what her duties are, she explains that she offers the same services as a family physician.

Nelson-Houser is able to open up her own practice due to changes that originated in the health care system beginning in the mid-90’s. These changes began with a collaborative agreement with primary care physicians that allows nurse practitioners to practice as physicians. In addition, many states now allow nurse practitioners to prescribe medicines without the direct supervision of a physician.

APRNs in general, and nurse practitioners in particular, typically have a minimum of seven years of training, which the Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses believes is enough experience to write prescriptions.

Nelson-Houser believes the changes are beneficial to both staff and patients. The physician’s time is freed up to take on more complicated patient issues while the nurse practitioner is able to give the same care patients would receive from the physician. In the case of Nelson-Houser, she is able to schedule more patients now that she has her own practice instead of depending on coordinating times with another physician.

With a projected shortage of 90,000 doctors over the next decade, nurse practitioners are stepping up to offer their services as primary care providers. Only forty-percent of the nation’s states give APRNs full practice authority currently, but more states are starting to see the many benefits of updating laws to allow nurse practitioners and other APRNs more autonomy.

In Ohio, the number of APRNs has tripled over the last decade and patients have begun to see the benefits of choosing a private practice nurse practitioner. Forrest Lines, a patient of Nelson-Houser’s feels that nurses are more compassionate and more affordable and he’s been happy with the care he’s received.

Nelson-Houser refers her patients to a specialist when necessary and says that APRNs cost about 40 percent less than private physicians.