Once again the value of nurses in providing quality care and improved outcomes for patients has been demonstrated by a study involving family medicine practices and diabetic patients. From the Annals of Family Medicine; January/February 2008.
This result is not surprising. However, this particular study looks at outcomes in family practices with Nurse Practitioners versus physicians alone and practices with physicians and Physician Assistants. The practices with NPs provided better care.
John Q. Public may not understand why this is so, but nurses will certainly understand why. The minimum education requirements for PAs and NPs is vastly different, as is the content and focus. You can become a PA with an Associate degree, whereas an NP now has to have an MSN or equivalent.
Nurses are taught to educate patients and although the NP has an additional in-depth advanced education in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment; patient education remains a priority for all nurses.
Physicians don’t have time to adequately address the education needs of their patients, and patient education is not a primary focus of the PA’s education.
This was a small study, and part of the researcher’s conclusions state that more studies, as well as larger studies, should be done. As practitioners utilize more NPs and PAs to help to reduce costs of healthcare, the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of care provided needs to be better understood in order to improve patient outcomes.