May 21, 2011

Impact of NPs on Diabetes Primary Care

With the growing shortage of primary care physicians in the US, expect to see more NPs (nurse practitioners) and PAs (physician assistants) in the years ahead if you are not already seeing them. Those NPs that have specialized in diabetes and become proficient are having good success in this area.

The study uses the term “mid-level providers” which the NPs find demeaning. This term is used because they are not doctors, but the successes NPs are achieving shows that once they have the training, they are more effective than the PCPs. The study data was mainly from the hospital-affiliated and free-standing Veterans Administration primary care programs. It involved 198 care programs and more than 88,000 diabetes patients.

The significant data points out that NPs helped patients reduce their A1c's and this translated into a seven percent reduction in diabetes complications and deaths in VA patients with diabetes. This is consistent with previous studies and this study having been done be a groups of epidemiologists, medical sociologists, and physicians supports previous findings of nurse researchers that had been discounted by other healthcare professionals.

The fact that NPs are getting better results than PAs is the result of the training program they had to submit to to become eligible to work as NPs in the VA system. There should have been more data, but even with the data explanation given in this study says a lot about the care veterans with diabetes are receiving under the direction of NPs.

Read the article here.

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