QUESTIONJUL 23, 2017

Discussion Board board replies

Instructions: Each reply must be at least 450 words. Each reply must include at least 2 peer-reviewed source citations, in current APA format.  Each thread will also require integration of at least 1 biblical principle.

Discussion #1

Matthew 9:12 states “But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.”  This sentiment has shifted in current times due to the proven benefits of preventive treatment.  The care of a physician is mostly sought out once someone is sick and needs medical attention; however, maintaining regular visits with a primary care physician can help to prevent many illnesses from occurring. Shi and Singh state that “demand for physicians continues to grow faster than supply. Leading to a projected shortfall of between 46,100 and 90,400 physicians by 2025” (Shi & Singh, 2017, p. 88).  As the demand for physician’s increases, the health care delivery system has had to create and employ an increasing number of supporting roles to assist physicians in providing care. 

Two of those roles are Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs).  These two roles work collaboratively to support physicians in providing care to patients in primacy care and specialty care settings.  In primary care settings, patients are often given the option to be seen by their physician or their physician’s nurse practitioner or physician assistant.  Cooper states that “studies had shown that NPs and PAs could deliver 70% or more of the office-based primary care and, thereby, substantially increase the efficiency of generalist practices” (Cooper, 2007).  Often times NPs and PAs are easier to get appointments with and provide the same care as the physician. In hospitals, nurse practitioners and physician assistants “can prescribe narcotics, undertake procedures, and direct patient care” (Hooker, 2006).  Nurse practitioners and physician assistants work as part of patient care teams in hospital settings and can be employed by either the doctor they are supporting or the hospital itself.  The roles of nurse practitioners and physicians in hospitals is expected to increase in the future due to the impact of the 80-hour rule enacted by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in 2003.  This rule limits the average working week for medical residents to eighty hours.  Institutions who do not comply with this rule face losing their accreditation (Hooker, 2006).  This has resulted in many hospitals hiring an increased number of nurse practitioners and physician assistants to fill staffing gaps.

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are required to undergo similar training programs in order to practice medicine.  The current average length of a nurse practitioner education program is 26 months.  Education programs for physician assistants average 27 months (Hooker, 2006).  The majority of nurse practitioner programs allow for part time enrollment, while physician assistant programs primarily require full time enrollment.  Each year nurse practitioner programs graduate an average of 6,552 students; which is a decrease from the average of 8,200 in previous years.  On the other hand, physician assistant programs have seen an increase in the average number of graduating students.  In 1998 the average number of graduates from PA programs was 4,261.  By 2005 this number had increased to an average of 4,644 (Hooker, 2006). 

The influx in the usage of nurse practitioners and physician assistants has been an important development in medical labor.  The roles of these two has expanded in recent years to assist with the growing shortage of physicians in primary care and hospital settings.  Both can be trained in a considerably shorter time than doctors and can offer comparable levels of care.  I believe the future will see even more nurse practitioners and physician assistants in practice; especially in rural areas where the shortage of health professionals is expected to be the greatest.  The benefit of these two roles to patient care is substantial.

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