During the last 30 years, Advanced Practitioners have become a growing, critical force behind health services in rural areas throughout America. These Practitioners are now found in every specialty and healthcare setting, providing care to a diverse patient population. Their efforts are especially appreciated in the underserved areas of rural America where a quarter of rural health care providers are Nurse Practitioners(1). Along with Physician Assistants, these providers are making a real difference for many rural health care patients by improving their access to services.
Increasing Health Services in Rural America
Advanced Practitioners are improving access to rural health care by increasing the number of available appointments to patients in medically underserved areas. Advanced Practitioners account for up to 41% of Medicare beneficiaries Primary Care appointments in rural America (4). This adds up to a considerable number of rural health care patients accessing services who may not have otherwise been seen.
Reducing the Cost of Care
Reducing the cost of health services in rural areas can help promote a utilization of care. AP's provide cost effective, quality healthcare that's equivalent to services provided by Physicians. These cost savings can be considerable and have been found to equal up to 30% less per visit than similar services provided by Physicians(3).
Providing Expanded Services
Progressive legislation changes in many states are allowing APs to provide an expanded range of services to patients while exercising more autonomy. These changes are increasing rural health care access to new services through the use of Telemedicine. This groundbreaking technology is helping provide consultations and care in a variety of medical specialties with an emphasis in the areas of Mental Health and Stroke Care. This allows under-served populations to access critical treatments that may not be available within a reasonable distance of their location.
Expertise in Primary Care
Advanced Practitioners are well-versed in providing Primary Care in rural settings. This is not surprising when you consider these professions were created as a solution to rural physician shortages. Both Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners bring their expertise in the specialty to practice with training and continuing medical education requirements that heavily emphasize Primary Care Medicine. Primary care is a cornerstone of the necessary health services in rural areas, and the ability of APs to function within this capacity positively impacts the health of these remote communities.
Providing High Quality Care
The length of time necessary to educate an Advanced Practitioner is about half that of a Physician. This shortened timeline allows a greater number of APs to hit the job market without sacrificing the quality of medical care, a great advantage for rural areas which are understaffed Despite the difference in educational requirements, studies of practicing Advanced Practitioners have found that quality of care and patient satisfaction levels are comparable to those that Physicians provide(2).
Find Rural Health Care Jobs
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