Advanced Practice Registered Nurses Could Shrink Primary Care Gap
Thursday, February 05, 2015
Posted by: Kat Hinson
Issued by the Texas Association of Business, Jan. 27, 2015
AUSTIN, TX— Texas’ primary care gap is growing much faster than our medical schools can produce primary care practitioners. Because there is a serious and growing shortage of primary care providers in Texas, the Legislature should fund expansion of the primary care Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) education programs on a pay-for-performance basis. Based on the need and the ability of Texas education programs to expand, the Texas Association of Business (TAB) recommends $20 million be appropriated to fund the education of 500 additional primary care APRNs. This funding is in addition to all other funding for nurse education.
“Primary care APRNs are qualified to address a person’s primary care needs,” said TAB CEO Bill Hammond. “We must do something quickly to expand the number of primary care providers in Texas, and this approach makes the most sense from a cost standpoint and from the standpoint of getting primary care practitioners into all areas of Texas quickly.”
177 out of Texas 254 counties are designated as primary care health professional shortage areas. The number of Texans without access to adequate primary care providers is expected to grow as the state’s population continues to grow and age. Even with the additional medical schools set to open in Austin and the Rio Grande Valley, Texas cannot produce or attract enough primary care physicians to close the primary care gap.
Primary care APRNs can be prepared to go into practice fairly rapidly and at a relatively low cost to the state.. A registered nurse with a BSN degree can become a practicing primary care APRN by completing either a two or three-year program. The nurse must also pass a certification examination administered by a national certification board and be licensed by the Board of Nursing.
“From a standpoint of time and money, expanding this approach makes the most sense as the best way to address our primary care gap,” said Hammond. “This plan expands quality health care to tens of thousands additional Texans in the most efficient and economically effective manner.”
TAB is asking that the Legislature provide $20 million for the biennium, in addition to any funds otherwise appropriated to APRN and other nursing and primary care physician programs. We estimate this funding will support an additional 500 APRN students, increase student scholarships, and provide funding for other costs associated with preparing APRNs to enter the primary care workforce. Funding should be made available on the same pay-for-performance basis that has proven successful in expanding the number of new RNs. Approving this appropriation request increase the availability of primary care practitioners thereby improving Texas citizens’ access to primary care services.
“We know Texas has a shortage of primary care providers, and we know APRNs provide quality primary care services,” said Margie Dorman-O’Donnell, president of the Texas Nurses Association. “Increasing the availability of primary care APRNs is an investment in a healthy future for Texans. We appreciate the business community’s support and foresight to propose this initiative.”
“This proposal makes common sense. APRNs are a cost-effective solution to closing the primary care shortage in Texas,” added Mary Loftin, CNM, Chair of the Coalition for Nurses in Advanced Practice. “Expanding funding for APRN education now will help guarantee quality primary care for Texans.”
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As the state chamber of commerce, the Texas Association of Business is the most influential and dominant voice for public policy issues affecting business in Texas. Through proven results-oriented advocacy and member services, TAB develops a climate in Texas which enables more than 4,000 business members and their 600,000+ employees to operate efficiently and profitably, thus creating new jobs. TAB is proud to be the official state partner of the National Association of Manufacturers.