When reviewing the Healthy People 2020 objectives for Access to Health Services, all of their objectives are legitimate and important. All of the topics are problems in our healthcare system, however, I feel that increasing the persons with a usual care provider and increase the number of practicing care providers is the most important (Healthy People, 2018). I do not know if this is just a problem in California, or if it is nationwide, but patients in my area have an extremely difficult time finding a primary care provider, whether it is a Physician, Physicians Assistant or Nurse Practitioner. There is such a shortage in my area, that patients have to wait months to get established with a provider. Then when they are ill or have an acute problem their provider is unable to see them within a few days because there is no appointments for weeks. Most end up going to a prompt care type setting or to the emergency department. I believe that if we can increase the number of practicing care providers patients will then be able to have a usual care provider that can see them in a timely manner for more acute problems and to adequately manage the patients chronic illness, leading to fewer emergency department visits and hospitalizations.
This is one of the reasons I would like to pursue a Master’s Degree and become a Family Nurse Practitioner after obtaining my BSN. I see so many patients in the Emergency Department, that are there every week for problems that would be easily treated by a physician or mid-level. Most of these patients are elderly without access to resources and are failing outpatient treatment. When you have a practitioner that can see the patient, set up in home resources and follow up, the patients outcome is likely to much more successful.
It appears that the shortage of primary care providers presents a challenge for the entire US healthcare system and is not only in my area. Historically, physicians did not present with a positive attitude when the topic of including PAs and NPs, as key players in augmenting primary care. Current medical practice has become a complex, multilayered problem, that is requiring a team approach. Physicians alone will be unlikely to meet future demands for primary care and and also specialty care. Therefore, greater attention will likely be focused on the PA and NP profession and its ability to continue to adapt to meet society’s healthcare needs (Coplan, Smith & Cawley, 2017).