The health care system is complicated, and finding a health care provider can be a challenge. But with the growing popularity of nurse practitioners (NPs) as primary care providers, access to quality health care is becoming easier. In fact, Americans make 916 million visits to nurse practitioners as their primary care provider every year, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
The Nurse Practitioner Group, the primary care faculty practice of Columbia University School of Nursing and one of very few NP-run facilities in the city, has provided primary care for hundreds of patients at its midtown Manhattan office. It recently opened offices in Washington Heights and Morningside Heights.The practice is giving patients more choices and showing them that NPs are a viable option for primary care services. Here’s why:
Tapping Nurse Practitioners to Fill an Important Gap
There’s an urgent need for primary care services in the U.S. — more than 58 million Americans face a shortage of these services in their area. As the fastest growing group of professionals in the primary care workforce, NPs help to close this gap. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced preparation and education who provide primary, acute and specialty health care services. They can evaluate patients, make diagnoses, prescribe medications and initiate and manage patient treatment. Two out of three NPs practice in primary care settings and more than 220,000 NPs are licensed in the U.S., a number that is expected to grow over the next 10 years. All of the NPs at the Nurse Practitioner Group are board certified.
Nurse Practitioners Provide Higher Quality Care
More than 80 percent of NPs train in primary care. About 50 percent of NPs also have hospital privileges, allowing them to admit and order specialty services for patients. Clinical research has shown that nurse practitioners provide quality care with high patient satisfaction rates.
Nurse Practitioners vs Doctors
NPs focus on the whole person, providing a range of services that concentrate on patients’ mental and physical well-being, and they counsel patients about making lifestyle choices that may reduce their disease risk.
“Nurse practitioners approach patients as individuals,” said Stephen Ferrara, Columbia University School of Nursing’s associate dean of clinical affairs. “If a patient’s sleep schedule is affected by a stressful job or having young children, NPs factor that into their care. If a patient is too busy to cook dinner and is tempted by a dozen fast-food restaurants on their way home every day, nurse practitioners could suggest that patients minimize their fast-food intake instead of eating it every day.”
Where Can I Find NPs that Provide Primary Care?
At the Nurse Practitioner Group, integrated primary and mental health care services include annual checkups, treating acute and chronic illnesses, LGBT health and travel health. As part of ColumbiaDoctors and in affiliation with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the Nurse Practitioner Group provides access to a network of specialists at Columbia University Medical Center.
Ferrara said the practice is focused on meeting the needs of the diverse community it serves. It’s why NPs take the time to get to know patients, their challenges and their goals. “They can develop a clear, comprehensive and actionable treatment plan that enables patients to receive the highest quality, personalized care available,” Ferrara said.
Check out our Nurse Practitioners Primary Care locations in New York City!