Day after day, Arlene Wright has a full caseload of patients.
She and her fellow nurse practitioners are on the front lines of the health care system, providing clinical services in the midst of a shortage of primary care doctors.
“I think that’s very important for people to know who they are seeing. A medical assistant or LPN usually gets their vital signs, the nurse practitioner then comes in and takes care of listening to their complaints and assessing them and ordering any tests,” says Arlene Wright, nurse practitioner with Lee Memorial System.
As health care changes, so does the role of the practitioner. They have already achieved an advanced nursing degree, but soon getting into the field will take a PhD.
By 2015 entry-level nurse practitioners will have a doctorate degree. This added number of high-level medical professionals is sorely needed, as the demand for services goes up.
“Because we are in now the Affordable Care Act, that’s going to bring so many uninsured patients that will be insured, into our system,” says Wright.
It’s estimated the US will need 52,000 more physicians in 2025. Fueled by an aging population and the rise in chronic ailments- like obesity. Which brought 71-year-old Pat Rogers here.
“Because I need somebody watching me and weighing me and checking on me. Because I can slide off very easily,” says Pat Rogers, patient.
“Our focus now, instead of being curative is really going on to be wellness. If we can intervene in that area, patients are less likely to end up in the hospital,” says Wright.While your nurse may be a doctor- there are distinct differences. Their doctorate will be in nursing, not medicine. And they can’t use the title doctor in a health care setting. But get used to seeing them; they may be the answer to your health care needs.